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Exp Cell Res. 1993 Sep;208(1):209-17.

TPA-induced differentiation of human rhabdomyosarcoma cells: expression of the myogenic regulatory factors.

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Istituto di Istologia ed Embriologia Generale, Fac. di Medicina, Università di Roma La Sapienza, Italy.


RD cells (a cell line derived from a human rhabdomyosarcoma) undergo a very limited myogenic differentiation despite the fact that they express several myogenic determination genes. Since we have previously shown (Aguanno et al., Cancer Res. 50, 3377, 1990) that the tumor promoter 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) induces myogenic differentiation in these cells, in this paper we investigate the mechanism by which TPA interferes with the expression and/or function of the myogenic determination genes. Northern blot analysis revealed that RD cells express the myf3 (the human analog of MyoD) and myf4 (the human analog of myogenin) transcripts, but not myf5 or myf6 transcripts. The myf3 and the myf4 gene products are correctly translated and accumulated in the nuclei as shown by immunofluorescence analysis. The tumor promoter (TPA) does not modify the pattern of expression of the myf factors while it induces the accumulation of muscle-specific transcripts, such as alpha-actin and fast myosin light chain 1, and their corresponding proteins. On the other hand, within 1 day of treatment, TPA inhibits the expression of the Id gene, which is a negative regulator of MyoD activity. However, while the TPA-induced inhibition of Id message accumulation correlates with differentiation, cell confluence also causes a reduction in Id message accumulation, without inducing differentiation. Under our experimental conditions, overexpression of any of the myf cDNAs in RD cells does induce spontaneous differentiation but enhances the effect of TPA treatment independently from the level of the expressed message. These data suggest that differentiation of RD cells is likely to depend upon the activity of complexes containing the various members of the MyoD family, which can be regulated by proteins affecting MyoD dimerization such as Id, but also by other mechanisms induced by TPA, such as phosphorylation.

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