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Cell. 2007 Jun 1;129(5):999-1010.

Asymmetric self-renewal and commitment of satellite stem cells in muscle.

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  • 1The Sprott Center for Stem Cell Research, Ottawa Health Research Institute, Molecular Medicine Program, 501 Smyth Road, Ottawa, ON K1H 8L6, Canada.


Satellite cells play a central role in mediating the growth and regeneration of skeletal muscle. However, whether satellite cells are stem cells, committed progenitors, or dedifferentiated myoblasts has remained unclear. Using Myf5-Cre and ROSA26-YFP Cre-reporter alleles, we observed that in vivo 10% of sublaminar Pax7-expressing satellite cells have never expressed Myf5. Moreover, we found that Pax7(+)/Myf5(-) satellite cells gave rise to Pax7(+)/Myf5(+) satellite cells through apical-basal oriented divisions that asymmetrically generated a basal Pax7(+)/Myf5(-) and an apical Pax7(+)/Myf5(+) cells. Prospective isolation and transplantation into muscle revealed that whereas Pax7(+)/Myf5(+) cells exhibited precocious differentiation, Pax7(+)/Myf5(-) cells extensively contributed to the satellite cell reservoir throughout the injected muscle. Therefore, we conclude that satellite cells are a heterogeneous population composed of stem cells and committed progenitors. These results provide critical insights into satellite cell biology and open new avenues for therapeutic treatment of neuromuscular diseases.

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