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Myogenic Cell Specification During Somitogenesis

M. Buckingham, S. Tajbakhsh
Published 1999 · Biology

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Publisher Summary The formation of skeletal muscle has provided a paradigm for the study of tissue differentiation since the 1970s. The availability of mammalian muscle cell lines as well as primary cultures, in which dividing myoblasts spontaneously form muscle fibers, facilitated investigation of the battery of muscle-specific genes that are activated during this process. It also led to the isolation of the MyoD family of myogenic regulatory factors (MRFs) in the late 1980s. An initial wave of primary myogenesis leads to the formation of primary fibers that will contribute mainly to the slow fibers of adult skeletal muscle. Subsequently, a second wave of myogenesis occurs, which is characterized by the proliferation of previously quiescent myoblasts, and the formation of secondary fibers, which mature into the different fast fibers of the adult. This process is associated with the onset of innervations, although not entirely dependent on it, and will continue throughout the fetal period. The fiber type and hence the transcriptional status of different muscle genes are affected by physiological parameters such as exercise, and adult muscles retain a precursor cell population, the satellite cells, which permit regeneration to take place. In this chapter, the early stages of skeletal myogenesis in the embryo are discussed—taking the mouse as a model—in the context of the genes and the signaling molecules that lead to the acquisition of myogenic identity.
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