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Development. 2000 Jan;127(2):437-45.

The role of Lbx1 in migration of muscle precursor cells.

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Max-Delbrück-Centre for Molecular Medicine, Robert-Rössle-Strasse 10, Germany.


The homeobox gene Lbx1 is expressed in migrating hypaxial muscle precursor cells during development. These precursors delaminate from the lateral edge of the dermomyotome and form distinct streams that migrate over large distances, using characteristic paths. The targets of migration are limbs, septum transversum and the floor of the first branchial arch where the cells form skeletal muscle of limbs and shoulders, diaphragm and hypoglossal cord, respectively. We used gene targeting to analyse the function of Lbx1 in the mouse. Myogenic precursor cells delaminate from the dermomyotome in Lbx1 mutants, but migrate in an aberrant manner. Most critically affected are migrating cells that move to the limbs. Precursor cells that reach the dorsal limb field are absent. In the ventral limb, precursors are present but distributed in an abnormal manner. As a consequence, at birth some muscles in the forelimbs are completely lacking (extensor muscles) or reduced in size (flexor muscles). Hindlimb muscles are affected strongly, and distal limb muscles are more affected than proximal ones. Other migrating precursor cells heading towards the floor of the first branchial arch move along the appropriate path in Lbx1 mutants. However, these cells migrate less efficiently and reduced numbers of precursors reach their distal target. At birth, the internal lingual muscle is therefore reduced in size. We suggest that Lbx1 controls the expression of genes that are essential for the recognition or interpretation of cues that guide migrating muscle precursors and maintain their migratory potential.

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