Skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle cells express overlapping sets of muscle-specific genes, such that some muscle genes are expressed in only a single muscle cell type, whereas others are expressed in multiple muscle celt lineages. Recent studies in transgenic mice have revealed that, in many cases, multiple, independent cis-regulatory regions, or modules, are required to direct the complete developmental pattern of expression of individual muscle-specific genes, even within a single muscle cell type. The temporospatial specificity of these myogenic regulatory modules is established by unique combinations of transcription factors and has revealed unanticipated diversity in the regulatory programs that control muscle gene expression. This type of composite regulation of muscle gene expression appears to reflect a general strategy for the control of cell-specific gene expression.
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