Vertebrate skeletal muscle is composed of distinct types of fibre that are functionally adapted through differences in their physiological and metabolic properties. An understanding of the molecular basis of fibre-type specification is of relevance to human health and fitness. The zebrafish provides an attractive model for investigating fibre type specification; not only are their rapidly developing embryos optically transparent, but in contrast to amniotes, the embryonic myotome shows a discrete temporal and spatial separation of fibre type ontogeny that simplifies its analysis. Here we review the current state of understanding of muscle fibre type specification and differentiation during embryonic development of the zebrafish, with a particular focus on the roles of the Prdm1a and Sox6 transcription factors, and consider the relevance of these findings to higher vertebrate muscle biology.
Keywords: Hedgehog signalling; Muscle fibre type; Prdm1; Sox6; Zebrafish; miR-499.
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