The myoD gene family: nodal point during specification of the muscle cell lineage

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Science  15 Feb 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4995, pp. 761-766
DOI: 10.1126/science.1846704


The myoD gene converts many differentiated cell types into muscle. MyoD is a member of the basic-helix-loop-helix family of proteins; this 68-amino acid domain in MyoD is necessary and sufficient for myogenesis. MyoD binds cooperatively to muscle-specific enhancers and activates transcription. The helix-loop-helix motif is responsible for dimerization, and, depending on its dimerization partner, MyoD activity can be controlled. MyoD senses and integrates many facets of cell state. MyoD is expressed only in skeletal muscle and its precursors; in nonmuscle cells myoD is repressed by specific genes. MyoD activates its own transcription; this may stabilize commitment to myogenesis.

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