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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Feb;87(3):1089-93.

Herculin, a fourth member of the MyoD family of myogenic regulatory genes.

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Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena 91125.


We have identified and cloned herculin, a fourth mouse muscle regulatory gene. Comparison of its DNA and deduced amino acid sequences with those of the three known myogenic genes (MyoD, myogenin, and Myf-5) reveals scattered short spans with similarity to one or more of these genes and a long span with strong similarity to all three. This long span includes a sequence motif that is also present in proteins of the myc, achaete-scute, and immunoglobulin enhancer-binding families. The herculin gene is physically linked to the Myf-5 gene on the chromosome; only 8.5 kilobases separate their translational start sites. A putative 27-kDa protein is encoded by three exons contained within a 1.7-kilobase fragment of the herculin gene. When expressed under the control of the simian virus 40 early promoter, transfected herculin renders murine NIH 3T3 and C3H/10T1/2 fibroblasts myogenic. In doing so, it also activates expression of myogenin, MyoD, and endogenous herculin in NIH 3T3 recipients. In adult mice, herculin is expressed in skeletal muscle but is absent from smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, and all nonmuscle tissues assayed. Direct comparison of the four known myogenic regulators in adult muscle showed that herculin is expressed at a significantly higher level than is any of the others. This quantitative dominance suggests an important role in the establishment or maintenance of adult skeletal muscle.

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