ReportMuscle Development

Control of muscle formation by the fusogenic micropeptide myomixer

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Science  21 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6335, pp. 323-327
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam9361

Micromanaging muscle cell fusion

Adult skeletal muscles are characterized by long, multinucleated cells called myofibers. Myofibers form when muscle precursor cells, or myoblasts, differentiate and fuse together during embryogenesis. The fusion process is not fully understood. Studying cell culture and mouse models, Bi et al. identified an 84–amino acid peptide that promotes myoblast fusion. This small peptide, called Myomixer, physically interacts with and stimulates the activity of a fusogenic membrane protein called Myomaker. Notably, the Myomaker-Myomixer pair can also promote the fusion of nonmuscle cells, such as fibroblasts.

Science, this issue p. 323


Skeletal muscle formation occurs through fusion of myoblasts to form multinucleated myofibers. From a genome-wide clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) loss-of-function screen for genes required for myoblast fusion and myogenesis, we discovered an 84–amino acid muscle-specific peptide that we call Myomixer. Myomixer expression coincides with myoblast differentiation and is essential for fusion and skeletal muscle formation during embryogenesis. Myomixer localizes to the plasma membrane, where it promotes myoblast fusion and associates with Myomaker, a fusogenic membrane protein. Myomixer together with Myomaker can also induce fibroblast-fibroblast fusion and fibroblast-myoblast fusion. We conclude that the Myomixer-Myomaker pair controls the critical step in myofiber formation during muscle development.

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