DUX4 induces a transcriptome more characteristic of a less-differentiated cell state and inhibits myogenesis

Paul Knopp, Yvonne D. Krom, Christopher R S Banerji, Maryna Panamarova, Louise A. Moyle, Bianca den Hamer, Silvére M. van der Maarel, Peter S. Zammit*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)
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Skeletal muscle wasting in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) results in substantial morbidity. On a disease-permissive chromosome 4qA haplotype, genomic and/or epigenetic changes at the D4Z4 macrosatellite repeat allows transcription of the DUX4 retrogene. Analysing transgenicmice carrying a human D4Z4 genomic locus from an FSHD-affected individual showed that DUX4 was transiently induced in myoblasts during skeletal muscle regeneration. Centromeric to the D4Z4 repeats is an inverted D4Z4 unit encoding DUX4c. Expression of DUX4, DUX4c and DUX4 constructs, including constitutively active, dominant-negative and truncated versions, revealed that DUX4 activates target genes to inhibit proliferation and differentiation of satellite cells, but that it also downregulates target genes to suppress myogenic differentiation. These transcriptional changes elicited by DUX4 in mouse have significant overlap with genes regulated by DUX4 in man. Comparison of DUX4 and DUX4c transcriptional perturbations revealed that DUX4 regulates genes involved in cell proliferation, whereas DUX4c regulates genes engaged in angiogenesis and muscle development, with both DUX4 and DUX4c modifing genes involved in urogenital development. Transcriptomic analysis showed that DUX4 operates through both target gene activation and repression to orchestrate a transcriptome characteristic of a less-differentiated cell state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3816-3831
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • DUX4
  • DUX4c
  • FSHD
  • Satellite cell
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Stem cells
  • Transcriptome


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