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A population of Pax7-expressing muscle progenitor cells show differential responses to muscle injury dependent on developmental stage and injury extent


Skeletal muscle regeneration in vertebrates occurs by the activation of quiescent progenitor cells that express pax7 to repair and replace damaged myofibers. We have developed a mechanical injury paradigm in zebrafish to determine whether developmental stage and injury size affect the regeneration dynamics of skeletal muscle. We found that both small focal injuries, and large injuries affecting the entire myotome, lead to expression of myf5 and myogenin, which was prolonged in older larvae, indicating a slower process of regeneration. We characterized the endogenous behavior of a population of muscle-resident Pax7-expressing cells using a pax7a:eGFP transgenic line and found that GFP+ cell migration in the myotome dramatically declined between 5 and 7 days post-fertilization (dpf). Following a small single myotome injury, GFP+ cells responded by extending processes, before migrating to the injured myofibers. Furthermore, these cells responded more rapidly to injury in 4 dpf larvae compared to 7 dpf. Interestingly, we did not see GFP+ myofibers after repair of small injuries, indicating that pax7a-expressing cells did not contribute to myofiber formation in this injury context. On the contrary, numerous GFP+ myofibers could be observed after an extensive single myotome injury. Both injury models were accompanied by an increased number of proliferating GFP+ cells, which was more pronounced in larvae injured at 4 dpf than 7 dpf. This indicates intriguing developmental differences, at these early ages. Our data also suggests an interesting disparity in the role that pax7a-expressing muscle progenitor cells play during skeletal muscle regeneration, which may reflect the extent of muscle damage.

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