Skeletal muscle differentiation is influenced by multiple pathways, which regulate the activity of myogenic regulatory factors (MRFs)-the myogenic basic helix-loop-helix proteins and the MEF2-family members-in positive or negative ways. Here we will review and discuss the network of signals that regulate MRF function during myocyte proliferation, differentiation, and post-mitotic growth. Elucidating the mechanisms governing muscle-specific transcription will provide important insight in better understanding the embryonic development of muscle at the molecular level and will have important implications in setting out strategies aimed at muscle regeneration. Since the activity of MRFs are compromised in tumors of myogenic derivation-the rhabdomyosarcomas-the studies summarized in this review can provide a useful tool to uncover the molecular basis underlying the formation of these tumors.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.