Stimulatory and inhibitory mechanisms of slow muscle-specific myosin heavy chain gene expression in fish: Transient and transgenic analysis of torafuguMYHM86-2promoter in zebrafish embryos

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The myosin heavy chain gene, MYHM86-2, exhibited restricted expression in slow muscle fibers of torafugu embryos and larvae, suggesting its functional roles for embryonic and larval muscle development. However, the transcriptional mechanisms involved in its expression are still ambiguous. The present study is the first extensive analysis of slow muscle-specific MYHM86-2 promoter in fish for identifying the cis-elements that are crucial for its expression. Combining both transient transfection and transgenic approaches, we demonstrated that the 2614 bp 5′-flanking sequences of MYHM86-2 contain a sufficient promoter activity to drive gene expression specific to superficial slow muscle fibers. By cyclopamine treatment, we also demonstrated that the differentiation of such superficial slow muscle fibers depends on hedgehog signaling activity. The deletion analyses defined an upstream fragment necessary for repressing ectopic MYHM86-2 expression in the fast muscle fibers. The transcriptional mechanism that prevents MYHM86-2 expression in the fast muscle fibers is mediated through Sox6 binding elements. We also demonstrated that Sox6 may function as a transcriptional repressor of MYHM86-2 expression. We further discovered that nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) binding elements plays a key role and myocyte enhancer factor-2 (MEF2) binding elements participate in the transcriptional regulation of MYHM86-2 expression.

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