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Mol Cell. 2004 May 21;14(4):465-77.

Pbx marks genes for activation by MyoD indicating a role for a homeodomain protein in establishing myogenic potential.

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Division of Human Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Skeletal muscle differentiation is initiated by the transcription factor MyoD, which binds directly to the regulatory regions of genes expressed during skeletal muscle differentiation and initiates chromatin remodeling at specific promoters. It is not known, however, how MyoD initially recognizes its binding site in a chromatin context. Here we show that the H/C and helix III domains, two domains of MyoD that are necessary for the initiation of chromatin remodeling at the myogenin locus, together regulate a restricted subset of genes, including myogenin. These domains are necessary for the stable binding of MyoD to the myogenin promoter through an interaction with an adjacent protein complex containing the homeodomain protein Pbx, which appears to be constitutively bound at this site. This demonstrates a specific mechanism of targeting MyoD to loci in inactive chromatin and reveals a critical role of homeodomain proteins in marking specific genes for activation in the muscle lineage.

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