Myogenin is a muscle-specific transcription factor that can induce myogenesis in a variety of cell types in tissue culture. To test myogenin's role in vivo, mice homozygous for a targeted mutation in the myogenin gene were generated. These mice survive fetal development but die immediately after birth and show a severe reduction of all skeletal muscle. Myogenin-mutant mice differ from mice carrying mutations in genes for the related myogenic factors Myf5 and MyoD, which have no muscle defects. Myogenin is therefore essential for the development of functional skeletal muscle.
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