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J Cell Sci. 2006 Dec 1;119(Pt 23):4828-40. Epub 2006 Nov 14.

Convergence of Igf2 expression and adhesion signalling via RhoA and p38 MAPK enhances myogenic differentiation.

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The Babraham Institute, Babraham Research Campus, Cambridge, CB2 4AT, UK.


Cell-cell contact is essential for appropriate co-ordination of development and it initiates significant signalling events. During myogenesis, committed myoblasts migrate to sites of muscle formation, align and form adhesive contacts that instigate cell-cycle exit and terminal differentiation into multinucleated myotubes; thus myogenesis is an excellent paradigm for the investigation of signals derived from cell-cell contact. PI3-K and p38 MAPK are both essential for successful myogenesis. Pro-myogenic growth factors such as IGF-II activate PI3-K via receptor tyrosine kinases but the extracellular cues and upstream intermediates required for activation of the p38 MAPK pathway in myoblast differentiation are not known. Initial observations suggested a correlation between p38 MAPK phosphorylation and cell density, which was also related to N-cadherin levels and Igf2 expression. Subsequent studies using N-cadherin ligand, dominant-negative N-cadherin, constitutively active and dominant-negative forms of RhoA, and MKK6 and p38 constructs, reveal a novel pathway in differentiating myoblasts that links cell-cell adhesion via N-cadherin to Igf2 expression (assessed using northern and promoter-reporter analyses) via RhoA and p38alpha and/or beta but not gamma. We thus define a regulatory mechanism for p38 activation that relates cell-cell-derived adhesion signalling to the synthesis of the major fetal growth factor, IGF-II.

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