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Dev Dyn. 2004 Feb;229(2):380-92.

Embryonic myogenesis pathways in muscle regeneration.

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Center for Genetic Medicine, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA.


Embryonic myogenesis involves the staged induction of myogenic regulatory factors and positional cues that dictate cell determination, proliferation, and differentiation into adult muscle. Muscle is able to regenerate after damage, and muscle regeneration is generally thought to recapitulate myogenesis during embryogenesis. There has been considerable progress in the delineation of myogenesis pathways during embryogenesis, but it is not known whether the same signaling pathways are relevant to muscle regeneration in adults. Here, we defined the subset of embryogenesis pathways induced in muscle regeneration using a 27 time-point in vivo muscle regeneration series. The embryonic Wnt (Wnt1, 3a, 7a, 11), Shh pathway, and the BMP (BMP2, 4, 7) pathway were not induced during muscle regeneration. Moreover, antagonists of Wnt signaling, sFRP1, sFRP2, and sFRP4 (secreted frizzled-related proteins) were significantly up-regulated, suggesting active inhibition of the Wnt pathway. The pro-differentiation FGFR4 pathway was transiently expressed at day 3, commensurate with expression of MyoD, Myogenin, Myf5, and Pax7. Protein verification studies showed fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4) protein to be strongly expressed in differentiating myoblasts and newly formed myotubes. We present evidence that FGF6 is likely the key ligand for FGFR4 during muscle regeneration, and further suggest that FGF6 is released from necrotic myofibers where it is then sequestered by basal laminae. We also confirmed activation of Notch1 in the regenerating muscle. Finally, known MyoD coactivators (MEF2A, p/CIP, TCF12) and repressors (Twist, Id2) were strongly induced at appropriate time points. Taken together, our results suggest that embryonic positional signals (Wnt, Shh, and BMP) are not induced in postnatal muscle regeneration, whereas cell-autonomous factors (Pax7, MRFs, FGFR4) involving muscle precursor proliferation and differentiation are recapitulated by muscle regeneration.

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