The oncogenic forms of N-ras or H-ras prevent skeletal myoblast differentiation.

E. N. Olson, G. Spizz, M. A. Tainsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Differentiation of skeletal muscle involves withdrawal of myoblasts from the cell cycle, fusion to form myotubes, and the coordinate expression of a variety of muscle-specific gene products. Fibroblast growth factor and type beta transforming growth factor specifically inhibit myogenesis; however, the transmembrane signaling pathways responsible for suppression of differentiation by these growth factors remain elusive. Because ras proteins have been implicated in the transduction of growth factor signals across the plasma membrane, we used DNA-mediated gene transfer to investigate the potential involvement of this family of regulatory proteins in the control of myogenesis. Transfection of the mouse skeletal muscle cell line C2 with the oncogenic forms of H-ras or N-ras completely suppressed both myoblast fusion and induction of the muscle-specific gene products nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and creatine kinase. Inhibition of differentiation by activated ras genes occurred at the level of muscle-specific mRNA accumulation. In contrast, proto-oncogenic forms of N-ras or H-ras had no apparent effects on the ability of C2 cells to differentiate. Myoblasts transfected with activated ras genes exhibited normal growth properties and ceased proliferating in the absence of mitogens, indicating that ras inhibited differentiation through a mechanism independent of cell proliferation. These results demonstrate that activated ras gene products mimic the inhibitory effects of fibroblast growth factor and type beta transforming growth factor on myogenic differentiation and suggest that each of these regulators of myogenesis may operate through a common intracellular pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2104-2111
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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