• muscle;
  • myoblast;
  • myosatellite;
  • transduction;
  • transfection

The genetic manipulation of skeletal muscle cells in vitro is notoriously difficult, especially when using undifferentiated muscle cell lines (myoblasts) or primary muscle stem cells (myosatellites). We therefore optimized methods of gene transfer by overexpressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) in mouse C2C12 cells and in a novel system, primary rainbow trout myosatellite cells. A common lipid-based transfection reagent was used (Lipofectamine 2000) along with three different viral vectors: adeno-associated virus serotype 2 (AAV2), baculovirus (BAC) and lentivirus. Maximal transfection efficiencies of 49% were obtained in C2C12 cells after optimizing cell density and reagent : DNA ratio, although the GFP signal rapidly dissipated with proliferation and was not maintained with differentiation. The transduction efficiency of AAV2 was optimized to 65% by extending incubation time and decreasing cell density, although only 30% of cells retained expression after passing. A viral comparison revealed that lentivirus was most efficient at transducing C2C12 myoblasts as 97% of cells were transduced with only 106 viral genomes (vg) compared to 54% with 108 vg AAV2 and 23% with 109 vg BAC. Lentivirus also transduced 90% of primary trout myosatellites compared to 1–10% with AAV2 and BAC. The phosphoglycerate kinase 1 (pgk) promoter was 10-fold more active than the cytomegalovirus immediate-early promoter in C2C12 cells and both were effective in trout myosatellites. Maximal transduction of C2C12 myotubes was achieved by differentiating myoblasts previously transduced with lentivirus and the pgk promoter. Thus, our optimized protocol proved highly effective in diverse muscle cell systems and could therefore help overcome a common technological barrier.