Molecular Mechanisms of Myogenesis in Stem Cells

Title: Molecular Mechanisms of Myogenesis in Stem Cells
Authors: Ryan, Tammy
Date: 2011
Abstract: Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) represent a promising source of cells for cell replacement therapy in the context of muscle diseases; however, before ESC-based cell therapy can be translated to the clinic, we must learn to modulate cell-fate decisions in order to maximize the yield of myocytes from this systems. In order to gain a better understanding of the myogenic cell fate, we sought to define the molecular mechanisms underlying the specification and differentiation of ESCs into cardiac and skeletal muscle. More specifically, the central hypothesis of the thesis is that myogenic signalling cascades modulate cell fate via regulation of transcription factors. Retinoic acid (RA) is known to promote skeletal myogenesis, however the molecular basis for this remains unknown. We showed that RA expands the premyogenic progenitor population in mouse stem cells by directly activating pro-myogenic transcription factors such as Pax3 and Meox1. RA also acts indirectly by activating the pro-myogenic Wnt signalling cascade while simultaneously inhibiting the anti-myogenic influence of BMP4. This ultimately resulted in a significant enhancement of skeletal myogenesis. Furthermore, we showed that this effect was conserved in human embryonic stem cells, with implications for directed differentiation and cell therapy. The regulation of cardiomyogenesis by the Wnt pathway was also investigated. We identified a novel interaction between the cardiomyogenic transcription factor Nkx2.5 and the myosin phosphatase (MP) enzyme complex. Interaction with MP resulted in exclusion of Nkx2.5 from the nucleus and inhibition of its transcriptional activity. Finally, we showed that this interaction was modulated by phosphorylation of the Mypt1 subunit of MP by ROCK, downstream of Wnt3a. Treatment of differentiating mouse ESCs with Wnt3a resulted in exclusion of Nkx2.5 from the nucleus and a subsequent failure to undergo terminal differentiation into cardiomyocytes. This likely represents part of the molecular basis for Wnt-mediated inhibition of terminal differentiation of cardiomyocytes. Taken together, our results provide novel insight into the relationship between myogenic signalling cascades and downstream transcription factors and into how they function together to orchestrate the myogenic cell fate in stem cells.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -