The molecular regulation of myogenesis


Corresponding author: Michael A Rudnicki, McMaster University, 1280 Main St. West, Life Sciences Rm 437, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada. Tel: +1 905 5259140 (ext: 27424); e-mail:


Over the past years, several studies have unraveled important mechanisms by which the four myogenic regulatory factors (MRFs: MyoD, Myf-5, myogenin, and MRF4) control the specification and the differentiation of the muscle lineage. Early experiments led to the hypothesis that these factors were redundant and could functionally replace one another. However, recent experiments using in vivo and in vitro models have demonstrated that in fact different aspects of the myogenic program are controlled by different factors in vivo, suggesting that these factors play distinct roles during myogenesis. The activity of the MRFs during proliferation and differentiation of muscle precursor cells has clearly been demonstrated to be dependent on specific cell-cycle control mechanisms as well as distinct interactions with other regulatory molecules, such as the ubiquitously expressed E proteins and several other transcription factors. Furthermore, the observation that the MRFs can recruit chromatin remodeling proteins has shed some light on the mechanisms by which the MRFs activate gene expression. Recently, a functional role for MyoD during satellite cell activation and muscle repair has been identified in vivo, which cannot be substituted for by the other MRFs. This has put forward the hypothesis that these factors also play specific biological roles following muscle injury and repair.