Silencing of Mustn1 inhibits myogenic fusion and differentiation
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Mustn1 (Mustang, musculoskeletal temporally activated novel gene) was originally identified in fracture callus tissue, but its greatest expression is detected in skeletal muscle. Thus, we conducted experiments to investigate the expression and function of Mustn1 during myogenesis. Temporally, quantitative real-time PCR analysis of muscle samples from embryonic day 17 to 12 mo of age reveals that Mustn1 mRNA expression is greatest at 3 mo of age and beyond, consistent with the expression pattern of Myod. In situ hybridization shows abundant Mustn1 expression in somites and developing skeletal muscles, while in adult muscle, Mustn1 is localized to some peripherally located nuclei. Using RNA interference (RNAi), we investigated the function of Mustn1 in C2C12 myoblasts. Though silencing Mustn1 mRNA had no effect on myoblast proliferation, it did significantly impair myoblast differentiation, preventing myofusion. Specifically, when placed in low-serum medium for up to 6 days, Mustn1-silenced myoblasts elongated poorly and were mononucleated. In contrast, control RNAi-treated and parental myoblasts presented as large, multinucleated myotubes. Further supporting the morphological observations, immunocytochemistry of Mustn1-silenced cells demonstrated significant reductions in myogenin (Myog) and myosin heavy chain (Myhc) expression at 4 and 6 days of differentiation as compared with control and parental cells. The decreases in Myog and Myhc protein expression in Mustn1-silenced cells were associated with robust ( approximately 3-fold or greater) decreases in the expression of Myod and desmin (Des), as well as the myofusion markers calpain 1 (Capn1), caveolin 3 (Cav3), and cadherin 15 (M-cadherin; Cadh15). Overall, we demonstrate that Mustn1 is an essential regulator of myogenic differentiation and myofusion, and our findings implicate Myod and Myog as its downstream targets.
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