Contrasting roles for MyoD in organizing myogenic promoter structures during embryonic skeletal muscle development.
Terminal differentiation of muscle cells follows a precisely orchestrated program of transcriptional regulatory events at the promoters of both muscle-specific and ubiquitous genes. Two distinct families of transcriptional co-activators, GCN5/PCAF and CREB-binding protein (CBP)/p300, are crucial to this process. While both possess histone acetyl-transferase (HAT) activity, previous studies have failed to identify a requirement for CBP/p300 HAT function in myogenic differentiation. We have addressed this issue directly using a chemical inhibitor of CBP/p300 in addition to a negative transdominant mutant. Our results clearly demonstrate that CBP/p300 HAT activity is critical for myogenic terminal differentiation. Furthermore, this requirement is restricted to a subset of events in the differentiation program: cell fusion and specific gene expression. These data help to define the requirements for enzymatic function of distinct coactivators at different stages of the muscle cell differentiation program.