The molecular mechanism(s) that are responsible for suppressing MyoD's transcriptional activities in undifferentiated skeletal muscle cells have not yet been determined. We now show that MyoD associates with a histone deacetylase-1 (HDAC1) in these cells and that this interaction is responsible for silencing MyoD-dependent transcription of endogenous p21 as well as muscle-specific genes. Specifically, we present evidence that HDAC1 can bind directly to MyoD and use an acetylated MyoD as a substrate in vitro, whereas a mutant version of HDAC1 (H141A) can not. Further more, this mutant also fails to repress MyoD-mediated transcription in vivo, and unlike wild-type HDAC1 it can not inhibit myogenic conversion, as judged by confocal microscopy. Finally, we show that an endogenous MyoD can be acetylated upon its conversion to a hypophosphorylated state and only when the cells have been induced to differentiate. These results provide for a model which postulates that MyoD may be co-dependent on HDAC1 and P/CAF for temporally controlling its transcriptional activity before and after the differentiation of muscle cells.
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