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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Myf5 is a novel early axonal marker in the mouse brain and is subjected to post-transcriptional regulation in neurons.

Myf5 is a key basic Helix-Loop-Helix transcription factor capable of converting many non-muscle cells into muscle. Together with MyoD it is essential for initiating the skeletal muscle programme in the embryo. We previously identified unexpected restricted domains of Myf5 transcription in the embryonic mouse brain, first revealed by Myf5-nlacZ(+/)(-) embryos (Tajbakhsh, S. and Buckingham, M. (1995) Development 121, 4077-4083). We have now further characterized these Myf5 expressing neurons. Retrograde labeling with diI, and the use of a transgenic mouse line expressing lacZ under the control of Myf5 regulatory sequences, show that Myf5 transcription provides a novel axonal marker of the medial longitudinal fasciculus (mlf) and the mammillotegmental tract (mtt), the earliest longitudinal tracts to be established in the embryonic mouse brain. Tracts projecting caudally from the developing olfactory system are also labelled. nlacZ and lacZ expression persist in the adult brain, in a few ventral domains such as the mammillary bodies of the hypothalamus and the interpeduncular nucleus, potentially derived from the embryonic structures where the Myf5 gene is transcribed. To investigate the role of Myf5 in the brain, we monitored Myf5 protein accumulation by immunofluorescence and immunoblotting in neurons transcribing the gene. Although Myf5 was detected in muscle myotomal cells, it was absent in neurons. This would account for the lack of myogenic conversion in brain structures and the absence of a neural phenotype in homozygous null mutants. RT-PCR experiments show that the splicing of Myf5 primary transcripts occurs correctly in neurons, suggesting that the lack of Myf5 protein accumulation is due to regulation at the level of mRNA translation or protein stability. In the embryonic neuroepithelium, Myf5 is transcribed in differentiated neurons after the expression of neural basic Helix-Loop-Helix transcription factors. The signalling molecules Wnt1 and Sonic hedgehog, implicated in the activation of Myf5 in myogenic progenitor cells in the somite, are also produced in the viscinity of the Myf5 expression domain in the mesencephalon. We show that cells expressing Wnt1 can activate neuronal Myf5-nlacZ gene expression in dissected head explants isolated from E9.5 embryos. Furthermore, the gene encoding the basic Helix-Loop-Helix transcription factor mSim1 is expressed in adjacent cells in both the somite and the brain, suggesting that signalling molecules necessary for the activation of mSim1 as well as Myf5 are present at these different sites in the embryo. This phenomenon may be widespread and it remains to be seen how many other potentially potent regulatory genes, in addition to Myf5, when activated do not accumulate protein at inappropriate sites in the embryo.[1]


  1. Myf5 is a novel early axonal marker in the mouse brain and is subjected to post-transcriptional regulation in neurons. Daubas, P., Tajbakhsh, S., Hadchouel, J., Primig, M., Buckingham, M. Development (2000) [Pubmed]
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