Hinits, Y., Osborn, D.P., and Hughes, S.M. (2009) Differential requirements for myogenic regulatory factors distinguish medial and lateral somitic, cranial and fin muscle fibre populations. Development (Cambridge, England). 136(3):403-414.
Myogenic regulatory factors of the Myod family (MRFs) are transcription factors essential for mammalian skeletal myogenesis. However, the roles of each gene in myogenesis remain unclear, owing partly to genetic linkage at the Myf5/Mrf4 locus and to rapid morphogenetic movements in the amniote somite. In mice, Myf5 is essential for the earliest epaxial myogenesis, whereas Myod is required for timely differentiation of hypaxially derived muscle. A second major subdivision of the somite is between primaxial muscle of the somite proper and abaxial somite-derived migratory muscle precursors. Here, we use a combination of mutant and morphant analysis to ablate the function of each of the four conserved MRF genes in zebrafish, an organism that has retained a more ancestral bodyplan. We show that a fundamental distinction in somite myogenesis is into medial versus lateral compartments, which correspond to neither epaxial/hypaxial nor primaxial/abaxial subdivisions. In the medial compartment, Myf5 and/or Myod drive adaxial slow fibre and medial fast fibre differentiation. Myod-driven Myogenin activity alone is sufficient for lateral fast somitic and pectoral fin fibre formation from the lateral compartment, as well as for cranial myogenesis. Myogenin activity is a significant contributor to fast fibre differentiation. Mrf4 does not contribute to early myogenesis in zebrafish. We suggest that the differential use of duplicated MRF paralogues in this novel two-component myogenic system facilitated the diversification of vertebrates.