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FEBS Open Bio. 2017 Feb 20;7(4):522-532. doi: 10.1002/2211-5463.12200. eCollection 2017 Apr.

Myostatin promotes tenogenic differentiation of C2C12 myoblast cells through Smad3.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Shinshu University School of Medicine Matsumoto Japan.
Sports Medicine Center Aizawa Hospital Matsumoto Japan.


Myostatin, a member of the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) superfamily, is expressed in developing and adult skeletal muscle and negatively regulates skeletal muscle growth. Recently, myostatin has been found to be expressed in tendons and increases tendon fibroblast proliferation and the expression of tenocyte markers. C2C12 is a mouse myoblast cell line, which has the ability to transdifferentiate into osteoblast and adipocyte lineages. We hypothesized that myostatin is capable of inducing tenogenic differentiation of C2C12 cells. We found that the expression of scleraxis, a tendon progenitor cell marker, is much higher in C2C12 than in the multipotent mouse mesenchymal fibroblast cell line C3H10T1/2. In comparison with other growth factors, myostatin significantly up-regulated the expression of the tenogenic marker in C2C12 cells under serum-free culture conditions. Immunohistochemistry showed that myostatin inhibited myotube formation and promoted the formation of spindle-shaped cells expressing tenomodulin. We examined signaling pathways essential for tenogenic differentiation to clarify the mechanism of myostatin-induced differentiation of C2C12 into tenocytes. The expression of tenomodulin was significantly suppressed by treatment with the ALK inhibitor SB341542, in contrast to p38MAPK (SB203580) and MEK1 (PD98059) inhibitors. RNAi silencing of Smad3 significantly suppressed myostatin-induced tenomodulin expression. These results indicate that myostatin has a potential role in the induction of tenogenic differentiation of C2C12 cells, which have tendon progenitor cell characteristics, through activation of Smad3-mediated signaling.


C2C12; Smad3; myostatin; tenocyte; tenomodulin

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