An E box comprises a positional sensor for regional differences in skeletal muscle gene expression and methylation

E Ceccarelli, M J McGrew, T Nguyen, U Grieshammer, D Horgan, S H Hughes, N Rosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To dissect the molecular mechanisms conferring positional information in skeletal muscles, we characterized the control elements responsible for the positionally restricted expression patterns of a muscle-specific transgene reporter, driven by regulatory sequences from the MLC1/3 locus. These sequences have previously been shown to generate graded transgene expression in the segmented axial muscles and their myotomal precursors, fortuitously marking their positional address. An evolutionarily conserved E box in the MLC enhancer core, not recognized by MyoD, is a target for a nuclear protein complex, present in a variety of tissues, which includes Hox proteins and Zbu1, a DNA-binding member of the SW12/SNF2 gene family. Mutation of this E box in the MLC enhancer has only a modest positive effect on linked CAT gene expression in transfected muscle cells, but when introduced into transgenic mice the same mutation elevates CAT transgene expression in skeletal muscles, specifically releasing the rostral restriction on MLC-CAT transgene expression in the segmented axial musculature. Increased transgene activity resulting from the E box mutation in the MLC enhancer correlates with reduced DNA methylation of the distal transgenic MLC1 promoter as well as in the enhancer itself. These results identify an E box and the proteins that bind to it as a positional sensor responsible for regional differences in axial skeletal muscle gene expression and accessibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-29
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 1999


  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Line
  • Chloramphenicol O-Acetyltransferase
  • DNA
  • DNA Methylation
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Regulator
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Muscle Development
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Mutation
  • MyoD Protein
  • Myosin Light Chains
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Rats
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Species Specificity


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