Insights into Cell-Specific Functions of Microtubules in Skeletal Muscle Development and Homeostasis

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Feb 2;24(3):2903. doi: 10.3390/ijms24032903.


The contractile cells of skeletal muscles, called myofibers, are elongated multinucleated syncytia formed and maintained by the fusion of proliferative myoblasts. Human myofibers can be hundreds of microns in diameter and millimeters in length. Myofibers are non-mitotic, obviating the need for microtubules in cell division. However, microtubules have been adapted to the unique needs of these cells and are critical for myofiber development and function. Microtubules in mature myofibers are highly dynamic, and studies in several experimental systems have demonstrated the requirements for microtubules in the unique features of muscle biology including myoblast fusion, peripheral localization of nuclei, assembly of the sarcomere, transport and signaling. Microtubule-binding proteins have also been adapted to the needs of the skeletal muscle including the expression of skeletal muscle-specific protein isoforms generated by alternative splicing. Here, we will outline the different roles microtubules play in skeletal muscle cells, describe how microtubule abnormalities can lead to muscle disease and discuss the broader implications for microtubule function.

Keywords: cell-specific; microtubules; muscle development; muscle homeostasis; myofiber; skeletal muscle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Microtubules
  • Muscle Development
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal* / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal* / metabolism

Grants and funding

The laboratory is supported by the National Institutes of Health, NIAMS R01 grant number AR060733 and NHLBI R01 grant number HL147020, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) grant number 602529.