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Keywords:

  • Bmp;
  • fibretype;
  • muscle;
  • Shh;
  • Wnt

Abstract

The limb myogenic precursors arise by delamination from the lateral dermomyotome in response to signals from the lateral plate mesoderm. They subsequently migrate into the developing limb bud where they switch on the expression of the myogenic regulatory factors, MyoD and Myf5, and coalese to form the dorsal and ventral muscle masses. The myogenic cells subsequently undergo terminal differentiation into slow or fast fibres which have distinct contractile properties determining how a muscle will function. In general, fast fibres contract rapidly with high force and are characterized by the expression of fast myosin heavy chains (MyHC). These fibres are needed for movement. In contrast, slow fibres express slow MyHC, contract slowly and are required for maintenance of posture. This review focuses on the molecular signals that control limb myogenic development from the initial delamination and migration of the premyogenic cells to the ultimate formation of the complex muscle pattern and differentiation of slow and fast fibres.