Work on genetic model systems such as Drosophila and mouse has shown that the fundamental mechanisms of myogenesis are remarkably similar in vertebrates and invertebrates. Strikingly, however, satellite cells, the adult muscle stem cells that are essential for the regeneration of damaged muscles in vertebrates, have not been reported in invertebrates. In this study, we show that lineal descendants of muscle stem cells are present in adult muscle of Drosophila as small, unfused cells observed at the surface and in close proximity to the mature muscle fibers. Normally quiescent, following muscle fiber injury, we show that these cells express Zfh1 and engage in Notch-Delta-dependent proliferative activity and generate lineal descendant populations, which fuse with the injured muscle fiber. In view of strikingly similar morphological and functional features, we consider these novel cells to be the Drosophila equivalent of vertebrate muscle satellite cells.
Keywords: D. melanogaster; Zfh-1; developmental biology; muscle repair; stem cells.