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J Cell Biol. 1999 Nov 15;147(4):869-78.

Skeletal myogenic progenitors originating from embryonic dorsal aorta coexpress endothelial and myogenic markers and contribute to postnatal muscle growth and regeneration.

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Istituto Pasteur-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Dipartimento di Istologia ed Embriologia, Università di Roma, La Sapienza, 00161 Rome, Italy.


Skeletal muscle in vertebrates is derived from somites, epithelial structures of the paraxial mesoderm, yet many unrelated reports describe the occasional appearance of myogenic cells from tissues of nonsomite origin, suggesting either transdifferentiation or the persistence of a multipotent progenitor. Here, we show that clonable skeletal myogenic cells are present in the embryonic dorsal aorta of mouse embryos. This finding is based on a detailed clonal analysis of different tissue anlagen at various developmental stages. In vitro, these myogenic cells show the same morphology as satellite cells derived from adult skeletal muscle, and express a number of myogenic and endothelial markers. Surprisingly, the latter are also expressed by adult satellite cells. Furthermore, it is possible to clone myogenic cells from limbs of mutant c-Met-/- embryos, which lack appendicular muscles, but have a normal vascular system. Upon transplantation, aorta-derived myogenic cells participate in postnatal muscle growth and regeneration, and fuse with resident satellite cells.The potential of the vascular system to generate skeletal muscle cells may explain observations of nonsomite skeletal myogenesis and raises the possibility that a subset of satellite cells may derive from the vascular system.

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