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J Biol Chem. 2008 Oct 24;283(43):29004-10. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M801297200. Epub 2008 Aug 1.

Cooperative synergy between NFAT and MyoD regulates myogenin expression and myogenesis.

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The Hubrecht Institute and Interuniversity Cardiology Institute Netherlands, Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, 3584 CT Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Calcineurin/NFAT signaling is involved in multiple aspects of skeletal muscle development and disease. The myogenic basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors, MyoD, myogenin, Myf5, and MRF4 specify the myogenic lineage. Here we show that calcineurin/NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T cells) signaling is required for primary myogenesis by transcriptional cooperation with the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor MyoD. Calcineurin/NFAT signaling is involved in myogenin expression in differentiating myoblasts, where the myogenic regulatory factor MyoD synergistically cooperates with NFATc2/c3 at the myogenin promoter. Using gel shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we identified two conserved NFAT binding sites in the myogenin promoter that were occupied by NFATc3 upon skeletal muscle differentiation. The transcriptional integration between NFATc3 and MyoD is crucial for primary myogenesis in vivo, as myogenin expression is weak in myod:nfatc3 double null embryos, whereas myogenin expression is unaffected in embryos with null mutations for either factor alone. Thus, the combined findings provide a novel transcriptional paradigm for the first steps of myogenesis, where a calcineurin/NFATc3 pathway regulates myogenin induction in cooperation with MyoD during myogenesis.

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