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Curr Top Dev Biol. 1999;43:191-219.

Seeking muscle stem cells.

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Neuromuscular Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown 02129, USA.


Skeletal muscle development requires the formation of myoblasts that can fuse with each other to form multinucleate myofibers. Distinct primary and secondary, slow and fast, populations of myofibers form by the time of birth. At embryonic, fetal, and perinatal stages of development, temporally distinct lineages of myogenic cells arise and contribute to the formation of these multiple types of myofibers. In addition, spatially distinct lineages of myogenic cells arise and form the anterior head muscles, limb (hypaxial) muscles, and dorsal (epaxial) muscles. There is strong evidence that myoblasts are produced from muscle stem cells, which are self-renewing cells that do not themselves terminally differentiate but produce progeny that are capable of becoming myoblasts and myofibers. Muscle stem cells, which may be multipotent, appear to be distinguishable from myoblasts by a number of indirect and direct criteria. Muscle stem cells arise either in unsegmented paraxial mesoderm (anterior head muscle progenitors) or in segmented mesoderm of the somites (epaxial and hypaxial muscle progenitors). These initial stages of myogenesis are regulated by positive and negative signals, including Wnt, BMP, and Shh family members, from nearby notochord, neural tube, ectoderm, and lateral mesoderm tissues. The formation of skeletal muscles, therefore, depends on the generation of spatially and temporally distinct lineages of myogenic cells. Myogenic cell lineages begin with muscle stem cells which produce the myoblasts that fuse to form myofibers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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