The satellite cell of skeletal muscle provides a paradigm for quiescent and activated tissue stem cell states. We have carried out transcriptome analyses on satellite cells purified by flow cytometry from Pax3(GFP/+) mice. We compared samples from adult skeletal muscles where satellite cells are mainly quiescent, with samples from growing muscles or regenerating (mdx) muscles, where they are activated. Analysis of regulation that is shared by both activated states avoids other effects due to immature or pathological conditions. This in vivo profile differs from that of previously analyzed satellite cells activated after cell culture. It reveals how the satellite cell protects itself from damage and maintains quiescence, while being primed for activation on receipt of the appropriate signal. This is illustrated by manipulation of the corepressor Dach1, and by the demonstration that quiescent satellite cells are better protected from oxidative stress than those from mdx or 1-week-old muscles. The quiescent versus in vivo activated comparison also gives new insights into how the satellite cell controls its niche on the muscle fiber through cell adhesion and matrix remodeling. The latter also potentiates growth factor activity through proteoglycan modification. Dismantling the extracellular matrix is important for satellite cell activation when the expression of proteinases is up-regulated, whereas transcripts for their inhibitors are high in quiescent cells. In keeping with this, we demonstrate that metalloproteinase function is required for efficient regeneration in vivo.
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