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Exp Cell Res. 2006 Dec 10;312(20):4162-80. Epub 2006 Sep 23.

alpha7 integrin expressing human fetal myogenic progenitors have stem cell-like properties and are capable of osteogenic differentiation.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, University of California San Francisco, Box 0640, 521 Parnassus Avenue, Room C-640, San Francisco, CA 94143-0640, USA.


During muscle development, precursor cells fuse to form myofibers. Following injury in adult muscle, quiescent satellite cells become activated to regenerate muscle in a fashion similar to fetal development. Recent studies indicate that murine skeletal myoblasts can differentiate along multiple cell lineages including the osteoblastic pathway. However, little is known about the multipotency of human myogenic cells. Here, we isolate myogenic precursor cells from human fetal and adult muscle by sorting for the laminin-binding alpha7 integrin and demonstrate their differentiation potential and alteration in adhesive behavior. The alpha7-positive human fetal progenitors were efficient at forming myotubes and a majority expressed known muscle markers including M-cadherin and c-Met, but were heterogeneous for desmin and MyoD expression. To test their pluripotent differentiation potential, enriched populations of alpha7-positive fetal cells were subjected to inductive protocols. Although the myoblasts appeared committed to a muscle lineage, they could be converted to differentiate along the osteoblastic pathway in the presence of BMP-2. Interestingly, osteogenic cells showed altered adhesion and migratory activity that reflected growth factor-induced changes in integrin expression. These results indicate that alpha7-expressing fetal myoblasts are capable of differentiation to osteoblast lineage with a coordinated switch in integrin profiles and may represent a mechanism that promotes homing and recruitment of myogenic stem cells for tissue repair and remodeling.

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