Transcriptional profiling reveals extraordinary diversity among skeletal muscle tissues

Elife. 2018 May 29;7:e34613. doi: 10.7554/eLife.34613.


Skeletal muscle comprises a family of diverse tissues with highly specialized functions. Many acquired diseases, including HIV and COPD, affect specific muscles while sparing others. Even monogenic muscular dystrophies selectively affect certain muscle groups. These observations suggest that factors intrinsic to muscle tissues influence their resistance to disease. Nevertheless, most studies have not addressed transcriptional diversity among skeletal muscles. Here we use RNAseq to profile mRNA expression in skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscle tissues from mice and rats. Our data set, MuscleDB, reveals extensive transcriptional diversity, with greater than 50% of transcripts differentially expressed among skeletal muscle tissues. We detect mRNA expression of hundreds of putative myokines that may underlie the endocrine functions of skeletal muscle. We identify candidate genes that may drive tissue specialization, including Smarca4, Vegfa, and Myostatin. By demonstrating the intrinsic diversity of skeletal muscles, these data provide a resource for studying the mechanisms of tissue specialization.

Keywords: RNAseq; Vegfa; cell biology; computational biology; gene expression; mouse; myokine; rat; skeletal muscle; systems biology; tissue engineering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muscle Proteins / genetics
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Smooth / cytology
  • Muscle, Smooth / metabolism
  • Myocardium / cytology
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Muscle Proteins