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Development. 1990 May;109(1):139-47.

Fusion between myoblasts and adult muscle fibers promotes remodeling of fibers into myotubes in vitro.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109-0616.


Muscle satellite cells are residual embryonic myoblast precursors responsible for muscle growth and regeneration. In order to examine the role of satellite cells in the initial events of muscle regeneration, we placed individual mature rat muscle fibers in vitro along with their satellite cells. When the satellite cells were allowed to proliferate, they produced populations of myoblasts that fused together to form myotubes on the laminin substrate. These myoblasts and myotubes also fused with the adult fibers. When they did so, the fibers lost their adult morphology, and by 8 days in vitro, essentially all of them were remodeled into structures resembling embryonic myotubes. However, when proliferating satellite cells were eliminated by exposure to cytosine arabinoside (araC), the vast majority of fibers retained their adult shape. Addition of C2C12 cells (a myoblast line derived from adult mouse satellite cells) to araC-treated fiber cultures resulted in their fusion with the rat muscle fibers and restored the ability of the fibers to remodel, whereas addition of either a fibroblast cell line or a transformed, non-fusing variant of C2C12 cells, or addition of conditioned medium from C2C12 cells, failed to do so. These results imply that myoblast fusion is responsible for triggering adult fiber remodeling in vitro.

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