The basic region of myogenin cooperates with two transcription activation domains to induce muscle-specific transcription

John J. Schwarz, Tushar Chakraborty, James Martin, Jumin Zhou, Eric N. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Myogenin is a skeletal muscle-specific transcription factor that can activate myogenesis when introduced into a variety of nonmuscle cell types. Activation of the myogenic program by myogenin is dependent on its binding to a DNA sequence known as an E box, which is associated with numerous muscle-specific genes. Myogenin shares homology with MyoD and other myogenic regulatory factors within a basic region and a helix-loop-helix (HLH) motif that mediate DNA binding and dimerization, respectively. Here we show that the basic region-HLH motif of myogenin alone lacks transcriptional activity and is dependent on domains in the amino and carboxyl termini to activate transcription. Analysis of these N- and C-terminal domains through creation of chimeras with the DNA-binding domain of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae transcription factor GAL4 revealed that they act as strong transcriptional activators. These transcription activation domains are dependent for activity on a specific amino acid sequence within the basic region, referred to as the myogenic recognition motif (MRM), when an E box is the target for DNA binding. However, the activation domains function independent of the MRM when DNA binding is mediated through a heterologous DNA-binding domain. The activation domain of the acidic coactivator VP16 can substitute for the myogenin activation domains and restore strong myogenic activity to the basic region-HLH motif. Within a myogenin-VP16 chimera, however, the VP16 activation domain also relies on the MRM for activation of the myogenic program. These findings reveal that DNA binding and transcriptional activation are separable functions, encoded by different domains of myogenin, but that the activity of the transcriptional activation domains is influenced by the DNA-binding domain. Activation of muscle-specific transcription requires collaboration between the DNA-binding and activation domains of myogenin and is dependent on events in addition to DNA binding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-275
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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