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Keywords:

  • Myf5;
  • MyoD;
  • mouse;
  • embryos;
  • myogenesis;
  • neurotrophins;
  • neuronal survival

Abstract

To determine which combination of skeletal muscle-derived neurotrophic factors may be important for the survival of specific subpopulations of developing spinal cord motor neurons, we used Myf5 and MyoD (myogenic regulatory factors) knockouts, containing differentially committed myogenic precursor cells (MPCc) and immunohistochemistry against several muscle-secreted neurotrophic factors. At the peak of motor neuron cell death, skeletal muscle development is delayed in the back and body wall muscles of Myf5−/− embryos and in the limb muscles of MyoD−/− embryos. We hypothesized that, if the skeletal muscle was indeed an important source of survival factors for motor neurons, the back, the abdominal wall, and the forelimb MPCs of Myf5−/− or MyoD−/− embryos should produce at least some neurotrophic factors necessary for the survival of motor neurons. In this report, we demonstrate that (1) different MPCs lacking Myf5, MyoD, or Myf5/MyoD have different capabilities in providing factors potentially required for the survival of motor neurons and intramuscular nerve branching, (2) MPCs in double-mutant embryos do not contain neurotrophic factors in the absence of myogenic specification, and (3) different subpopulations of MPCs contain different combinations of neurotrophic factors potentially required for the survival of the specific subpopulations of innervating motor neurons. Developmental Dynamics 234:659–669, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.