Pw1, a novel zinc finger gene implicated in the myogenic and neuronal lineages

Frédéric Relaix, Xun Weng, Giovanna Marazzi, Ellen Yang, Neal Copeland, Nancy Jenkins, Sally E. Spence, David Sassoon

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116 Scopus citations


The cellular and molecular processes leading to the establishment of the skeletal muscle lineage in the vertebrate are not well understood. The MyoD-related family of myogenic regulatory factors (MRFs) are expressed during somitogenesis although cells with myogenic capacity are present prior to gastrulation. We propose that regulatory genes exist that guide the skeletal muscle lineage during early development. In an effort to identify these regulatory genes, we performed a differential screening to isolate transcripts that are present in myogenic cells and in the embryo prior to MRF expression but absent in nonmyogenic fibroblasts. We report here the identification of Pw1. The Pw1 transcript is ~ 8.5 kb long and encodes a large protein containing 12 widespread C2H2 zinc fingers and 3 motifs containing periodic prolines and acidic residues. Consistent with the possibility that Pw1 is a transcription factor, we observe nuclear localization of the protein. Pw1 is strongly expressed upon gastrulation and subsequently becomes restricted to skeletal muscle and subregions of the central nervous system. Pw1 is initially expressed in all mesodermal cells early in development; however, its maintained expression in adult differentiated muscle suggests a specific role in the skeletal muscle lineage. Pw1 expression is cell cycle specific with levels highest during late M-phase. The gene is intronless which may facilitate transcription during cell division. At present, the precise function of Pw1 is not understood; however, we note that Pw1 maps to the proximal region of chromosome 7 near the axial segmentation mutant pudgy which shows severe perturbation of axial skeletal and muscle structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-396
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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