Barx2 Is Expressed in Satellite Cells and Is Required for Normal Muscle Growth and Regeneration§


  • Author contributions: R.M.: conception and design, collection and/or assembly of data, data analysis and interpretation, manuscript writing, and final approval of manuscript; K.G., M.B.,A.G.,J.Z., and J.-A.H.: collection and/or assembly of data; H.M.: conception and design, financial support, collection and/or assembly of data, data analysis and interpretation, manuscript writing, and final approval of manuscript.

  • Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.

  • §

    First published online in STEM CELLSEXPRESS November 10, 2011.


Muscle growth and regeneration are regulated through a series of spatiotemporally dependent signaling and transcriptional cascades. Although the transcriptional program controlling myogenesis has been extensively investigated, the full repertoire of transcriptional regulators involved in this process is far from defined. Various homeodomain transcription factors have been shown to play important roles in both muscle development and muscle satellite cell-dependent repair. Here, we show that the homeodomain factor Barx2 is a new marker for embryonic and adult myoblasts and is required for normal postnatal muscle growth and repair. Barx2 is coexpressed with Pax7, which is the canonical marker of satellite cells, and is upregulated in satellite cells after muscle injury. Mice lacking the Barx2 gene show reduced postnatal muscle growth, muscle atrophy, and defective muscle repair. Moreover, loss of Barx2 delays the expression of genes that control proliferation and differentiation in regenerating muscle. Consistent with the in vivo observations, satellite cell-derived myoblasts cultured from Barx2−/− mice show decreased proliferation and ability to differentiate relative to those from wild-type or Barx2+/− mice. Barx2−/− myoblasts show reduced expression of the differentiation-associated factor myogenin as well as cell adhesion and matrix molecules. Finally, we find that mice lacking both Barx2 and dystrophin gene expression have severe early onset myopathy. Together, these data indicate that Barx2 is an important regulator of muscle growth and repair that acts via the control of satellite cell proliferation and differentiation. STEM CELLS 2012; 30:253–265.