Fibronectin promotes migration, alignment and fusion in an in vitro myoblast cell model
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- Vaz, R., Martins, G.G., Thorsteinsdóttir, S. et al. Cell Tissue Res (2012) 348: 569. doi:10.1007/s00441-012-1364-1
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Myogenesis is a complex process in which committed myogenic cells differentiate and fuse into myotubes that mature into the muscle fibres of adult organisms. This process is initiated by a cascade of myogenic regulatory factors expressed upon entry of the cells into the myogenic differentiation programme. However, external signals such as those provided by the extracellular matrix (ECM) are also important in regulating muscle differentiation and morphogenesis. In the present work, we have addressed the role of various ECM substrata on C2C12 myoblast behaviour in vitro. Cells grown on fibronectin align and fuse earlier than cells on laminin or gelatine. Live imaging of C2C12 myoblasts on fibronectin versus gelatine has revealed that fibronectin promotes a directional collective migratory behaviour favouring cell-cell alignment and fusion. We further demonstrate that this effect of fibronectin is mediated by RGD-binding integrins expressed on myoblasts, that N-cadherin contributes to this behaviour, and that it does not involve enhanced myogenic differentiation. Therefore, we suggest that the collective migration and alignment of cells seen on fibronectin leads to a more predictable movement and a positioning that facilitates subsequent fusion of myoblasts. This study highlights the importance of addressing the role of fibronectin, an abundant component of the interstitial ECM during embryogenesis and tissue repair, in the context of myogenesis and muscle regeneration.