TRAF6 regulates satellite stem cell self-renewal and function during regenerative myogenesis

J Clin Invest. 2016 Jan;126(1):151-68. doi: 10.1172/JCI81655. Epub 2015 Nov 30.


Satellite cells are a stem cell population within adult muscle and are responsible for myofiber regeneration upon injury. Satellite cell dysfunction has been shown to underlie the loss of skeletal muscle mass in many acquired and genetic muscle disorders. The transcription factor paired box-protein-7 (PAX7) is indispensable for supplementing the reservoir of satellite cells and driving regeneration in normal and diseased muscle. TNF receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) is an adaptor protein and an E3 ubiquitin ligase that mediates the activation of multiple cell signaling pathways in a context-dependent manner. Here, we demonstrated that TRAF6-mediated signaling is critical for homeostasis of satellite cells and their function during regenerative myogenesis. Selective deletion of Traf6 in satellite cells of adult mice led to profound muscle regeneration defects and dramatically reduced levels of PAX7 and late myogenesis markers. TRAF6 was required for the activation of MAPKs ERK1/2 and JNK1/2, which in turn activated the transcription factor c-JUN, which binds the Pax7 promoter and augments Pax7 expression. Moreover, TRAF6/c-JUN signaling repressed the levels of the microRNAs miR-1 and miR-206, which promote differentiation, to maintain PAX7 levels in satellite cells. We also determined that satellite cell-specific deletion of Traf6 exaggerates the dystrophic phenotype in the mdx (a mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy) mouse by blunting the regeneration of injured myofibers. Collectively, our study reveals an essential role for TRAF6 in satellite stem cell function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Self Renewal*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / analysis
  • Muscle Development*
  • PAX7 Transcription Factor / analysis
  • PAX7 Transcription Factor / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun / physiology
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • TNF Receptor-Associated Factor 6 / physiology*


  • MicroRNAs
  • PAX7 Transcription Factor
  • Pax7 protein, mouse
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-jun
  • TNF Receptor-Associated Factor 6