The deacetylase HDAC4 controls myocyte enhancing factor-2-dependent structural gene expression in response to neural activity.

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Cell-Line, Gene-Expression-Regulation, Histone-Deacetylases, Mice-Inbred-C57BL, Muscle-Cells, Mutation, Myogenic-Regulatory-Factors, Neurons, Repressor-Proteins

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FASEB J 2009 Jan; 23(1):99-106.


Histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4) binds and inhibits activation of the critical muscle transcription factor myocyte enhancer factor-2 (MEF2). However, the physiological significance of the HDAC4-MEF2 complex in skeletal muscle has not been established. Here we show that in skeletal muscle, HDAC4 is a critical modulator of MEF2-dependent structural and contractile gene expression in response to neural activity. We present evidence that loss of neural input leads to concomitant nuclear accumulation of HDAC4 and transcriptional reduction of MEF2-regulated gene expression. Cell-based assays show that HDAC4 represses structural gene expression via direct binding to AT-rich MEF2 response elements. Notably, using both surgical denervation and the neuromuscular disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) model, we found that elevated levels of HDAC4 are required for efficient repression of MEF2-dependent structural gene expression, indicating a link between the pathological induction of HDAC4 and subsequent MEF2 target gene suppression. Supporting this supposition, we show that ectopic expression of HDAC4 in muscle fibers is sufficient to induce muscle damage in mice. Our study identifies HDAC4 as an activity-dependent regulator of MEF2 function and suggests that activation of HDAC4 in response to chronically reduced neural activity suppresses MEF2-dependent gene expression and contributes to progressive muscle dysfunction observed in neuromuscular diseases.