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Cell. 1992 Apr 3;69(1):67-77.

Mammalian muscle cells bear a cell-autonomous, heritable memory of their rostrocaudal position.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110.


We previously documented a greater than 100-fold rostrocaudal gradient of chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) expression in the muscles of adult mice that bear a myosin light chain-CAT transgene: successively more caudal muscles express successively higher levels of CAT. Here we studied the development and maintenance of this positional information in vitro. CAT levels reflect the rostrocaudal positions of the muscles from which the cells are derived in cultures established from adult muscles, in clones derived from individual adult myogenic (satellite) cells, in cultures prepared from embryonic myoblasts, and in cell lines derived by retrovirus-mediated transfer of an oncogene to satellite cells. Our results suggest that myoblasts bear a positional memory that is established in embryos, retained in adults, cell autonomous, heritable, stable to transformation, and accessible to study in clonal cell lines.

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