The RSRF/MEF2 protein SL1 regulates cardiac muscle-specific transcription of a myosin light-chain gene in Xenopus embryos.
Chambers AE., Logan M., Kotecha S., Towers N., Sparrow D., Mohun TJ.
We have examined the role of two RSRF/MEF2 proteins in the onset of skeletal and cardiac muscle differentiation in early Xenopus embryos. In normal development, zygotic expression of SL1 (MEF2D) precedes that of SL2 (MEF2A) by several hours, but neither gene is expressed prior to the accumulation of MyoD and Myf5 transcripts in the somitic mesoderm. Ectopic expression of the myogenic factors in explants of presumptive ectoderm induces expression of both SL1 and SL2, whereas in reciprocal experiments, neither RSRF protein activates the endogenous myoD or Myf5 genes. We conclude that SL1 and SL2 lie downstream of these myogenic factors in the skeletal myogenic pathway. SL1 is distinguished from SL2 in being expressed in the presumptive heart region of the early tailbud embryo, prior to detection of any markers for cardiac muscle differentiation. Furthermore, ectopic SL1 induces the expression of an endogenous cardiac muscle-specific myosin light-chain (XMLC2) gene in cultured blastula animal pole explants, whereas SL2 has no comparable effect. These results demonstrate that in addition to a possible role in skeletal myogenesis, SL1 also acts in vivo as a regulator of cardiac muscle-specific transcription.