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Dev Dyn. 1995 Mar;202(3):244-54.

MyoD protein accumulates in satellite cells and is neurally regulated in regenerating myotubes and skeletal muscle fibers.

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Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


MyoD belongs to a family of helix-loop-helix proteins that control myogenic differentiation. Transfection of various non-myogenic cell lines with MyoD transforms them into myogenic cells. In normal embryonic development MyoD is upregulated at the time when the hypaxial musculature begins to form, but its role in the function of adult muscle remains to be elucidated. In this study we examined the cellular locations of MyoD protein in normal and abnormal muscles to see whether the presence of MyoD protein is correlated with a particular cellular behaviour and to assess the usefulness of MyoD as a marker for satellite cells. Adult rats were anaesthetised and their tibialis anterior or soleus muscles either denervated, tenotomised, freeze lesioned, lesioned and denervated, or lesioned and tenotomised. At various intervals after the operations the rats were killed and their muscles removed, snap frozen, and sectioned with a cryostat along with muscles from unoperated neonatal and adult rats. The sections were processed for immunohistochemistry using a rabbit affinity-purified antibody to recombinant MyoD. MyoD proved to be an excellent marker for active satellite cells; satellite cells in neonatal and regenerating muscles contained high levels of MyoD protein. MyoD positive cells were not observed in the muscles of old adults, in which the satellite cells are fully quiescent. MyoD immunoreactivity was rapidly lost from satellite cell nuclei after they fused into myotubes and was not detected in either sub-synaptic or non-synaptic nuclei of mature fibers. Denervation, and to a lesser extent tenotomy, of lesioned muscles induced expression of MyoD in myotubal nuclei. Denervation of normal muscles also upregulated MyoD in muscle fiber nuclei, an effect which was maximal after 3 days. We conclude that MyoD protein is neurally regulated in both myotubes and muscle fibers.

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