beta-Catenin promotes self-renewal of skeletal-muscle satellite cells.J Cell Sci. 2008 May 01; 121(Pt 9):1373-82.JC
Satellite cells are the resident stem cells of adult skeletal muscle. As with all stem cells, how the choice between self-renewal or differentiation is controlled is central to understanding their function. Here, we have explored the role of beta-catenin in determining the fate of myogenic satellite cells. Satellite cells express beta-catenin, and expression is maintained as they activate and undergo proliferation. Constitutive retroviral-driven expression of wild-type or stabilised beta-catenin results in more satellite cells expressing Pax7 without any MyoD -- therefore, adopting the self-renewal pathway, with fewer cells undergoing myogenic differentiation. Similarly, preventing the degradation of endogenous beta-catenin by inhibiting GSK3beta activity also results in more Pax7-positive-MyoD-negative (Pax7(+)MyoD(-)) satellite-cell progeny. Consistent with these observations, downregulation of beta-catenin using small interfering RNA (siRNA) reduced the proportion of satellite cells that express Pax7 and augmented myogenic differentiation after mitogen withdrawal. Since a dominant-negative version of beta-catenin had the same effect as silencing beta-catenin using specific siRNA, beta-catenin promotes self-renewal via transcriptional control of target genes. Thus, beta-catenin signalling in proliferating satellite cells directs these cells towards the self-renewal pathway and, so, contributes to the maintenance of this stem-cell pool in adult skeletal muscle.