Du, S.J., Gao, J., and Anyangwe, V. (2003) Muscle-specific expression of myogenin in zebrafish embryos is controlled by multiple regulatory elements in the promoter. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 134(1):123-134.
Myogenin is a member of the basic Helix-Loop-Helix transcription factor family that play key roles in myoblast specification and differentiation. Myogenin is specifically expressed in developing somite and skeletal muscles in zebrafish embryos. To determine the regulation of myogenin expression, we reported here the characterization of zebrafish myogenin gene and analysis of its promoter activity in zebrafish embryos. Our data showed that a 0.8-kb myogenin promoter was sufficient to direct correct temporal and spatial muscle-specific green fluorescence protein expression in zebrafish embryos. Sequence analysis identified two putative E box sites in the myogenin gene promoter. In addition, a MEF2 recognition site and a MEF3 binding site were also found in the promoter. Mutation of the E boxes, MEF2 or MEF3 binding site individually had little effect on the muscle-specificity and activity of the myogenin promoter. However, mutating these sites in various combinations, e.g. E boxes and MEF2 binding site, or MEF2 and MEF3 sites significantly reduced the activity of the promoter. Moreover, mutating the E boxes, MEF2 and MEF3 sites together almost abolished the activity of the promoter. These data indicate that muscle-specific expression of myogenin in zebrafish embryos is controlled by multiple regulatory elements in the promoter. In addition, because these regulatory elements control myogenin expression in mouse and human embryos, these data suggest that the regulatory mechanism controlling myogenin expression might be conserved during evolution.