DUX4 induces a transcriptome more characteristic of a less-differentiated cell state and inhibits myogenesis
Generation of skeletal muscles with forms adapted to their function is essential for normal movement. Muscle shape is patterned by the coordinated polarity of collectively migrating myoblasts. Constitutive inactivation of the protocadherin gene Fat1 uncoupled individual myoblast polarity within chains, altering the shape of selective groups of muscles in the shoulder and face. These shape abnormalities were followed by early onset regionalised muscle defects in adult Fat1-deficient mice. Tissue-specific ablation of Fat1 driven by Pax3-cre reproduced muscle shape defects in limb but not face muscles, indicating a cell-autonomous contribution of Fat1 in migrating muscle precursors. Strikingly, the topography of muscle abnormalities caused by Fat1 loss-of-function resembles that of human patients with facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD). FAT1 lies near the critical locus involved in causing FSHD, and Fat1 mutant mice also show retinal vasculopathy, mimicking another symptom of FSHD, and showed abnormal inner ear patterning, predictive of deafness, reminiscent of another burden of FSHD. Muscle-specific reduction of FAT1 expression and promoter silencing was observed in foetal FSHD1 cases. CGH array-based studies identified deletion polymorphisms within a putative regulatory enhancer of FAT1, predictive of tissue-specific depletion of FAT1 expression, which preferentially segregate with FSHD. Our study identifies FAT1 as a critical determinant of muscle form, misregulation of which associates with FSHD.