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Genes Dev. 1997 Aug 15;11(16):2040-51.

A role for FGF-6 in skeletal muscle regeneration.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Braunschweig, Germany.


Fibroblast growth factor-6 (FGF-6) belongs to a family of cytokines that control cell proliferation, cell differentiation, and morphogenetic events. Individual FGFs are either expressed widely or in a restricted pattern during embryonic, fetal, and adult life. FGF-6 exhibits a restricted expression profile predominantly in the myogenic lineage. Important functions in wound healing and tissue regeneration have been proposed for various FGFs in the past, although data from knockout mice have not supported this view. We have inactivated the FGF-6 gene in mice to investigate the role of FGF-6 in skeletal muscle development and regeneration. Wild-type mice up-regulate FGF-6 after skeletal muscle injuries and completely restore experimentally damaged skeletal muscle. In contrast, FGF-6(-/-) mutant mice show a severe regeneration defect with fibrosis and myotube degeneration. The number of MyoD- and Myogenin-expressing activated satellite cells after injury were significantly reduced in mutants. This reduction was not caused by a reduced pool of quiescent satellite cells but presumably by a lack of activation or proliferation. Interbreeding of FGF-6(-/-) mutants with mdx mice leads to striking dystrophic changes in skeletal muscles of double homozygous mice characterized by myotube degeneration, the presence of large amounts of mononuclear cells, and deposition of collagen. RNA analysis revealed an up-regulation of MyoD mRNA in mdx but not in FGF-6(-/-)/mdx double mutant mice. We conclude that FGF-6 is a critical component of the muscle regeneration machinery in mammals, possibly by stimulating or activating satellite cells.

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