Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) is caused by the mis-expression of the double-homeodomain transcription factor DUX4 in skeletal muscle cells. Many different cell culture models have been developed to study the pathophysiology of FSHD, frequently based on endogenous expression of DUX4 in FSHD cells or by mis-expression of DUX4 in control human muscle cells. Although results generated using each model are generally consistent, differences have also been reported, making it unclear which model(s) faithfully recapitulate DUX4 and FSHD biology. In this study, we systematically compared RNA-seq data generated from three different models of FSHD—lentiviral-based DUX4 expression in myoblasts, doxycycline-inducible DUX4 in myoblasts, and differentiated human FSHD myocytes expressing endogenous DUX4—and show that the DUX4-associated gene expression signatures of each dataset are highly correlated (Pearson’s correlation coefficient, r ∼ 0.75-0.85). The few robust differences were attributable to different states of cell differentiation and other differences in experimental design. Our study describes a model system for inducible DUX4 expression that enables reproducible and synchronized experiments and validates the fidelity and FSHD relevance of multiple distinct models of DUX4 expression.

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