Eya1 and Eya2 proteins are required for hypaxial somitic myogenesis in the mouse embryo

Raphaelle Grifone, Josiane Demignon, Julien Giordani, Claire Niro, Evelyne Souil, Florence Bertin, Christine Laclef, Pin Xian Xu, Pascal Maire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


In mammals, Pax3, Six4, Six1 and Six5 genes are co-expressed with Eya1, Eya2 and Eya4 genes during mouse somitogenesis. To unravel the functions of Eya genes during muscle development, we analyzed myogenesis in Eya2-/- and in Eya1-/- embryos. A delay in limb myogenesis was observed between E10 and E13 in Eya1-/- embryos only, that is later compensated. Compound E18 Eya1-/-Eya2-/+ fetuses present a muscle phenotype comparable with that of Six1-/- fetuses; lacking a diaphragm and with a specific absence of limb muscles, suggesting either genetic epistasis between Six and Eya genes, or biochemical interactions between Six and Eya proteins. We tested these two non-exclusive possibilities. First, we show that Six proteins recruit Eya proteins to drive transcription during embryogenesis in the dermomyotomal epaxial and hypaxial lips of the somites by binding MEF3 DNA sites. Second, we show that Pax3 expression is lost in the ventrolateral (hypaxial) dermomyotomes of the somite in both Eya1-/-Eya2-/- embryos and in Six1-/-Six4-/- embryos, precluding hypaxial lip formation. This structure, from which myogenic cells delaminate to invade the limb does not form in these double mutant embryos, leading to limb buds without myogenic progenitor cells. Eya1 and Eya2, however, are still expressed in the somites of Six1Six4 double mutant and in splotch embryos, and Six1 is expressed in the somites of Eya1Eya2 double mutant embryos and in splotch embryos. Altogether these results show that Six and Eya genes lie genetically upstream of Pax3 gene in the formation of ventrolateral dermomyotome hypaxial lips. No genetic links have been characterized between Six and Eya genes, but corresponding proteins activate key muscle determination genes (Myod, Myogenin and Mrf4). These results establish a new hierarchy of genes controlling early steps of hypaxial myogenic commitment in the mouse embryo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)602-616
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Eyes absent/Eya proteins
  • Hypaxial
  • Muscle
  • OFC syndrome
  • Pax3
  • Six/sine oculis homeoproteins
  • Somite


Dive into the research topics of 'Eya1 and Eya2 proteins are required for hypaxial somitic myogenesis in the mouse embryo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this