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J Muscle Res Cell Motil. 2007;28(7-8):397-407. doi: 10.1007/s10974-008-9133-1. Epub 2008 Mar 18.

Genetic control of muscle development: learning from Drosophila.

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  • 1INSERM U384, 28, place Henri Dunant, 63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France.


Muscle development involves a complex sequence of time and spatially regulated cellular events leading to the formation of highly specialised syncytial muscle cells displaying a common feature, the capacity of contraction. Analyses of mechanisms controlling muscle development reveals that the main steps of muscle formation including myogenic determination, diversification of muscle precursors, myoblast fusion and terminal differentiation involve the actions of evolutionarily conserved genes. Thus dissecting the genetic control of muscle development in simple model organisms appears to be an attractive way to get insights into core genetic cascade that orchestrate myogenesis. In this respect, particularly insightful have been data generated using Drosophila as a model system. Notably, the interplay between intrinsic and extrinsic cues that determine the early myogenic decisions leading to the specification of muscle progenitors and those controlling myoblasts fusion are much better characterised in Drosophila than in vertebrate species. Also, adult Drosophila myogenesis, which leads to the formation of vertebrate-like multi-fibre muscles, emerges as a particularly well-adapted system to study normal and aberrant muscle development.

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