Synergistic regulation of vertebrate muscle development by Dach2, Eya2, and Six1, homologs of genes required for Drosophila eye formation

Genes Dev. 1999 Dec 15;13(24):3231-43. doi: 10.1101/gad.13.24.3231.


We have identified a novel vertebrate homolog of the Drosophila gene dachshund, Dachshund2 (Dach2). Dach2 is expressed in the developing somite prior to any myogenic genes with an expression profile similar to Pax3, a gene previously shown to induce muscle differentiation. Pax3 and Dach2 participate in a positive regulatory feedback loop, analogous to a feedback loop that exists in Drosophila between the Pax gene eyeless (a Pax6 homolog) and the Drosophila dachshund gene. Although Dach2 alone is unable to induce myogenesis, Dach2 can synergize with Eya2 (a vertebrate homolog of the Drosophila gene eyes absent) to regulate myogenic differentiation. Moreover, Eya2 can also synergize with Six1 (a vertebrate homolog of the Drosophila gene sine oculis) to regulate myogenesis. This synergistic regulation of muscle development by Dach2 with Eya2 and Eya2 with Six1 parallels the synergistic regulation of Drosophila eye formation by dachshund with eyes absent and eyes absent with sine oculis. This synergistic regulation is explained by direct physical interactions between Dach2 and Eya2, and Eya2 and Six1 proteins, analogous to interactions observed between the Drosophila proteins. This study reveals a new layer of regulation in the process of myogenic specification in the somites. Moreover, we show that the Pax, Dach, Eya, and Six genetic network has been conserved across species. However, this genetic network has been used in a novel developmental context, myogenesis rather than eye development, and has been expanded to include gene family members that are not directly homologous, for example Pax3 instead of Pax6.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Eye / embryology
  • Eye / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Muscle, Skeletal / embryology*
  • MyoD Protein / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / chemistry
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases
  • Retina / embryology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Vertebrates


  • DACH2 protein, Gallus gallus
  • DACH2 protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • MyoD Protein
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • SIX1 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • PAX1 transcription factor
  • EYA2 protein, human
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF198349