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J Cell Sci. 2008 Sep 15;121(Pt 18):2975-82. doi: 10.1242/jcs.019661.

All muscle satellite cells are equal, but are some more equal than others?

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  • 1King's College, London SE1 1UL, UK.


Skeletal muscle is an accessible adult stem-cell model in which differentiated myofibres are maintained and repaired by a self-renewing stem-cell compartment. These resident stem cells, which are known as satellite cells, lie on the surface of the muscle fibre, between the plasmalemma and overlying basal lamina. Although they are normally mitotically quiescent in adult muscle, satellite cells can be activated when needed to generate myoblasts, which eventually differentiate to provide new myonuclei for the homeostasis, hypertrophy and repair of muscle fibres, or fuse together to form new myofibres for regeneration. Satellite cells also self-renew in order to maintain a viable stem-cell pool that is able to respond to repeated demand. The study of the control of self-renewal has led to the idea that the satellite-cell pool might be heterogeneous: that is it might contain both self-renewing satellite ;stem' cells and myogenic precursors with limited replicative potential in the same anatomical location. The regulatory circuits that control satellite-cell self-renewal are beginning to be deciphered, with Pax7, and Notch and Wnt signalling being clearly implicated. This Commentary seeks to integrate these interesting new findings into the wider context of satellite-cell biology, and to highlight some of the many outstanding questions.

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