Myogenesis has proved to be a powerful paradigm for understanding cell fate specification and differentiation in many model organisms. Studies of somatic bodywall muscle (BWM) development in Caenorhabditis elegans allow us to define, with single cell resolution, the distinct hierarchies of transcriptional regulators needed for myogenesis throughout development. Although all 95 BWM cells appear uniform after differentiation, there are several different regulatory cascades employed embryonically and post-embryonically. These, in turn, are integrated into multiple extrinsic cell signaling events. The convergence of these different pathways on the key nodal point, that is the activation of the core muscle module, commits individual cells to myogenesis. Comparisons of myogenesis between C. elegans and other model systems provide insights into the evolution of contractile cell types, demonstrating the conservation of regulatory schemes for muscles throughout the animal kingdom.
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