Klhl31 attenuates β-catenin dependent Wnt signaling and regulates embryo myogenesis

Alaa Abou-Elhamd, Abdulmajeed Alrefaei, Gi Fay (Geoffrey) Mok, Carla Garcia-Morales, Muhammad Abu-Elmagd, Grant Wheeler, Andrea Munsterberg

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Klhl31 is a member of the Kelch-like family in vertebrates, which are characterized by an amino-terminal broad complex tram-track, bric-a-brac/poxvirus and zinc finger (BTB/POZ) domain, carboxy-terminal Kelch repeats and a central linker region (Back domain). In developing somites Klhl31 is highly expressed in the myotome downstream of myogenic regulators (MRF), and it remains expressed in differentiated skeletal muscle. In vivo gain- and loss-of-function approaches in chick embryos reveal a role of Klhl31 in skeletal myogenesis. Targeted mis-expression of Klhl31 led to a reduced size of dermomyotome and myotome as indicated by detection of relevant myogenic markers, Pax3, Myf5, myogenin and myosin heavy chain (MF20). The knock-down of Klhl31 in developing somites, using antisense morpholinos (MO), led to an expansion of Pax3, Myf5, MyoD and myogenin expression domains and an increase in the number of mitotic cells in the dermomyotome and myotome. The mechanism underlying this phenotype was examined using complementary approaches, which show that Klhl31 interferes with β-catenin dependent Wnt signaling. Klhl31 reduced the Wnt-mediated activation of a luciferase reporter in cultured cells. Furthermore, Klhl31 attenuated secondary axis formation in Xenopus embryos in response to Wnt1 or β-catenin. Klhl31 mis-expression in the developing neural tube affected its dorso-ventral patterning and led to reduced dermomyotome and myotome size. Co-transfection of a Wnt3a expression vector with Klhl31 in somites or in the neural tube rescued the phenotype and restored the size of dermomyotome and myotome. Thus, Klhl31 is a novel modulator of canonical Wnt signaling, important for vertebrate myogenesis. We propose that Klhl31 acts in the myotome to support cell cycle withdrawal and differentiation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-71
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Wnt signaling
  • Kelch-like
  • Klhl31
  • somite
  • myogenesis
  • chick embryo

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