The development and regeneration of skeletal muscle require the fusion of mononucleated muscle cells to form multinucleated, contractile muscle fibers. Studies using a simple genetic model, Drosophila melanogaster, have discovered many evolutionarily conserved fusion-promoting factors in vivo. Recent work in zebrafish and mouse also identified several vertebrate-specific factors required for myoblast fusion. Here, we integrate progress in multiple in vivo systems and highlight conceptual advance in understanding how muscle cell membranes are brought together for fusion. We focus on the molecular machinery at the fusogenic synapse and present a three-step model to describe the molecular and cellular events leading to fusion pore formation.
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