Determination versus differentiation and the MyoD family of transcription factors

Biochem Cell Biol. Sep-Oct 1995;73(9-10):723-32. doi: 10.1139/o95-080.


The myogenic regulatory factors (MRFs) form a family of basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors consisting of Myf-5, MyoD, myogenin, and MRF4. The MRFs play key regulatory roles in the development of skeletal muscle during embryogenesis. Sequence homology, expression patterns, and gene-targeting experiments have revealed a two-tiered subclassification within the MRF family. Myf-5 and MyoD are more homologous to one another than to the others, are expressed in myoblasts before differentiation, and are required for the determination or survival of muscle progenitor cells. By contrast, myogenin and MRF4 are more homologous to one another than to the others and are expressed upon differentiation, and myogenin is required in vivo as a differentiation factor while the role of MRF4 remains unclear. On this basis, MyoD and Myf-5 are classified as primary MRFs, as they are required for the determination of myoblasts, and myogenin and MRF4 are classified as secondary MRFs, as they likely function during terminal differentiation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Humans
  • Multigene Family
  • Muscle, Skeletal / embryology*
  • MyoD Protein / physiology*
  • Myogenic Regulatory Factors / biosynthesis
  • Phylogeny


  • MyoD Protein
  • Myogenic Regulatory Factors