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Curr Biol. 2001 Sep 18;11(18):1432-8.

Distinct mechanisms regulate slow-muscle development.

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Biology Department, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT 06459, USA.


Vertebrate muscle development begins with the patterning of the paraxial mesoderm by inductive signals from midline tissues [1, 2]. Subsequent myotome growth occurs by the addition of new muscle fibers. We show that in zebrafish new slow-muscle fibers are first added at the end of the segmentation period in growth zones near the dorsal and ventral extremes of the myotome, and this muscle growth continues into larval life. In marine teleosts, this mechanism of growth has been termed stratified hyperplasia [3]. We have tested whether these added fibers require an embryonic architecture of muscle fibers to support their development and whether their fate is regulated by the same mechanisms that regulate embryonic muscle fates. Although Hedgehog signaling is required for the specification of adaxial-derived slow-muscle fibers in the embryo [4, 5], we show that in the absence of Hh signaling, stratified hyperplastic growth of slow muscle occurs at the correct time and place, despite the complete absence of embryonic slow-muscle fibers to serve as a scaffold for addition of these new slow-muscle fibers. We conclude that slow-muscle-stratified hyperplasia begins after the segmentation period during embryonic development and continues during the larval period. Furthermore, the mechanisms specifying the identity of these new slow-muscle fibers are different from those specifying the identity of adaxial-derived embryonic slow-muscle fibers. We propose that the independence of early, embryonic patterning mechanisms from later patterning mechanisms may be necessary for growth.

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