Hayhurst M, Wagner AK, Cerletti M, Wagers AJ, Rubin LL. 2012. A cell-autonomous defect in skeletal muscle satellite cells expressing low levels of survival of motor neuron protein. Developmental biology. 368(2):323-34. Pubmed: 22705478 DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2012.05.037


Mutations in the Survival of Motor Neuron (SMN) gene underlie the development of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which currently represents the leading genetic cause of mortality in infants and toddlers. SMA is characterized by degeneration of spinal cord motor neurons and muscle atrophy. Although SMA is often considered to be a motor neuron disease, accumulating evidence suggests that muscle cells themselves may be affected by low levels of SMN. Here, we examine satellite cells, tissue-resident stem cells that play an essential role in the growth and repair of skeletal muscle, isolated from a severe SMA mouse model (Smn(-/-); SMN2(+/+)). We found similar numbers of satellite cells in the muscles of SMA and wild-type (Smn(+/+); SMN2(+/+)) mice at postnatal day 2 (P2), and, when isolated from skeletal muscle using cell surface marker expression, these cells showed comparable survival and proliferative potential. However, SMA satellite cells differentiate abnormally, revealed by the premature expression of muscle differentiation markers, and, especially, by a reduced efficiency in forming myotubes. These phenotypes suggest a critical role of SMN protein in the intrinsic regulation of muscle differentiation and suggest that abnormal muscle development contributes to the manifestation of SMA symptoms.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Related Faculty

Photo of Amy Wagers

Amy Wagers seeks to change the way we repair our tissues after an injury. Her research focuses on defining the factors and mechanisms that regulate the migration, expansion, and regenerative potential of adult blood-forming and muscle-forming stem cells.

Photo of Lee Rubin

Lee Rubin investigates the key molecular mediators of different neurodegenerative diseases, with the ultimate goal of finding effective preclinical therapeutic candidates.

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