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J Cell Physiol. 2006 Jan;206(1):264-72.

Myostatin auto-regulates its expression by feedback loop through Smad7 dependent mechanism.

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Animal Genomics, AgResearch, East Street, Hamilton, New Zealand.


Myostatin, a secreted growth factor, is a member of the TGF-beta superfamily and an inhibitor of myogenesis. Previously, we have shown that myostatin gene expression is regulated at the level of transcription and that myostatin is a downstream target gene of MyoD. Here we show that myostatin gene expression is auto-regulated by a negative feedback mechanism. Northern blot analysis indicated that there are relatively higher levels of myostatin mRNA in the biceps femoris muscle of cattle that express a non- functional myostatin allele (Belgian Blue) as compared to normal cattle. In contrast, addition of exogenous myostatin decreases endogenous myostatin mRNA. Consistent with this result, wild type myostatin protein is able to repress myostatin promoter activity via Activin type IIb receptor (ActRIIB) and ALK5 (P < 0.001). However, non-functional myostatin (Piedmontese) failed to repress the myostatin promoter suggesting that myostatin auto-regulates its promoter by negative feedback inhibition. Auto-regulation by myostatin appears to be signaled through Smad7, since the expression of the inhibitory Smad7 is induced by myostatin and the over-expression of Smad7 in turn inhibits the myostatin promoter activity (P < 0.001). In contrast down regulation of Smad7 by siRNA results in increased myostatin mRNA indicating that Smad7 is a negative regulator of myostatin gene expression. Consistent with these results, a decrease in Smad7 mRNA and concomitant increase in myostatin expression is seen in myotubes that express non functional myostatin. In addition, interference with myostatin signaling prevents the induction of Smad7 promoter activity by myostatin. Based on these results, we propose that myostatin auto-regulates its gene expression through a Smad7 dependent mechanism in myogenic cells.

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