Extrinsic regulation of satellite cell specification

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2010 Aug 26;1(3):27. doi: 10.1186/scrt27.


Cellular commitment during vertebrate embryogenesis is controlled by an interplay of intrinsic regulators and morphogenetic signals. These mechanisms recruit a subset of cells in the developing organism to become the ancestors of skeletal muscle. Signals that control progression through the myogenic lineage converge on a battery of hierarchically organized transcription factors which modulate the cells to either remain in a primitive state or allow their commitment and differentiation into skeletal muscle fibers. A small population of cells will retain a largely unspecified state throughout development. Such stem cells, in conjunction with more committed myogenic progenitors, form a heterogeneous population that colonizes adult skeletal muscle as satellite cells. The satellite cell pool is responsible for the remarkable regenerative capacity of skeletal muscle. Similar to their counterparts during embryonic development, satellite cells are capable of self-renewal and can give rise to myogenic progeny. Impaired satellite cell homeostasis has been associated with numerous muscular disorders. Due to intense research efforts in the past two decades, the complex biology of muscle stem cells has now revealed some of its secrets and new avenues for the development of therapeutic molecules have emerged. In the present review we focus on the extrinsic mechanisms that control self-renewal, specification and differentiation of satellite cells and their significance for the development of biologic drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / embryology
  • Mesoderm / growth & development
  • Muscle Development / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / embryology*
  • Regeneration / physiology
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / cytology
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cell Niche


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins