3D analysis of founder cell and fusion competent myoblast arrangements outlines a new model of myoblast fusion.
ABSTRACT: Formation of the Drosophila larval body wall muscles requires the specification, coordinated cellular behaviors and fusion of two cell types: Founder Cells (FCs) that control the identity of the individual muscle and Fusion Competent Myoblasts (FCMs) that provide mass. These two cell types come together to control the final size, shape and attachment of individual muscles. However, the spatial arrangement of these cells over time, the sequence of fusion events and the contribution of these cellular relationships to the fusion process have not been addressed. We analyzed the three-dimensional arrangements of FCs and FCMs over the course of myoblast fusion and assayed whether these issues impact the process of myoblast fusion. We examined the timing of the fusion process by analyzing the fusion profile of individual muscles in wild type and fusion mutants. We showed that there are two temporal phases of myoblast fusion in wild type embryos. Limited fusion events occur during the first 3 h of fusion, while the majority of fusion events occur in the remaining 2.5 h. Altogether, our data have led us to propose a new model of myoblast fusion where the frequency of myoblast fusion events may be influenced by the spatial arrangements of FCs and FCMs.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The visceral musculature of Drosophila larvae comprises circular visceral muscles tightly interwoven with longitudinal visceral muscles. During myogenesis, the circular muscles arise by one-to-one fusion of a circular visceral founder cell (FC) with a visceral fusion-competent myoblast (FCM) from the trunk visceral mesoderm, and longitudinal muscles arise from FCs of the caudal visceral mesoderm. Longitudinal FCs migrate anteriorly under guidance of fibroblast growth factors during embryogenesis; it is proposed that they fuse with FCMs from the trunk visceral mesoderm to give rise to syncytia containing up to six nuclei. RESULTS: Using fluorescence in situ hybridization and immunochemical analyses, we investigated whether these fusion events during migration use the same molecular repertoire and cellular components as fusion-restricted myogenic adhesive structure (FuRMAS), the adhesive signaling center that mediates myoblast fusion in the somatic mesoderm. Longitudinal muscles were formed by the fusion of one FC with Sns-positive FCMs, and defects in FCM specification led to defects in longitudinal muscle formation. At the fusion sites, Duf/Kirre and the adaptor protein Rols7 accumulated in longitudinal FCs, and Blow and F-actin accumulated in FCMs. The accumulation of these four proteins at the fusion sites argues for FuRMAS-like adhesion and signaling centers. Longitudinal fusion was disturbed in rols and blow single, and scar wip double mutants. Mutants of wasp or its interaction partner wip had no defects in longitudinal fusion. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicated that all embryonic fusion events depend on the same cell-adhesion molecules, but that the need for Rols7 and regulators of F-actin distinctly differs. Rols7 was required for longitudinal visceral and somatic myoblast fusion but not for circular visceral fusion. Importantly, longitudinal fusion depended on Kette and SCAR/Wave but was independent of WASp-dependent Arp2/3 activation. Thus, the complexity of the players involved in muscle formation increases from binucleated circular muscles to longitudinal visceral muscles to somatic muscles.
Project description:Myoblast fusion is an intricate process that is initiated by cell recognition and adhesion, and culminates in cell membrane breakdown and formation of multinucleate syncytia. In the Drosophila embryo, this process occurs asymmetrically between founder cells that pattern the musculature and fusion-competent myoblasts (FCMs) that account for the bulk of the myoblasts. The present studies clarify and amplify current models of myoblast fusion in several important ways. We demonstrate that the non-conventional guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) Mbc plays a fundamental role in the FCMs, where it functions to activate Rac1, but is not required in the founder cells for fusion. Mbc, active Rac1 and F-actin foci are highly enriched in the FCMs, where they localize to the Sns:Kirre junction. Furthermore, Mbc is crucial for the integrity of the F-actin foci and the FCM cytoskeleton, presumably via its activation of Rac1 in these cells. Finally, the local asymmetric distribution of these proteins at adhesion sites is reminiscent of invasive podosomes and, consistent with this model, they are enriched at sites of membrane deformation, where the FCM protrudes into the founder cell/myotube. These data are consistent with models promoting actin polymerization as the driving force for myoblast fusion.
Project description:The process of myogenesis includes the recognition, adhesion, and fusion of committed myoblasts into multinucleate syncytia. In the larval body wall muscles of Drosophila, this elaborate process is initiated by Founder Cells and Fusion-Competent Myoblasts (FCMs), and cell adhesion molecules Kin-of-IrreC (Kirre) and Sticks-and-stones (Sns) on their respective surfaces. The FCMs appear to provide the driving force for fusion, via the assembly of protrusions associated with branched F-actin and the WASp, SCAR and Arp2/3 pathways. In the present study, we utilize the dorsal pharyngeal musculature that forms in the Drosophila embryo as a model to explore myoblast fusion and visualize the fusion process in live embryos. These muscles rely on the same cell types and genes as the body wall muscles, but are amenable to live imaging since they do not undergo extensive morphogenetic movement during formation. Time-lapse imaging with F-actin and membrane markers revealed dynamic FCM-associated actin-enriched protrusions that rapidly extend and retract into the myotube from different sites within the actin focus. Ultrastructural analysis of this actin-enriched area showed that they have two morphologically distinct structures: wider invasions and/or narrow filopodia that contain long linear filaments. Consistent with this, formin Diaphanous (Dia) and branched actin nucleator, Arp3, are found decorating the filopodia or enriched at the actin focus, respectively, indicating that linear actin is present along with branched actin at sites of fusion in the FCM. Gain-of-function Dia and loss-of-function Arp3 both lead to fusion defects, a decrease of F-actin foci and prominent filopodia from the FCMs. We also observed differential endocytosis of cell surface components at sites of fusion, with actin reorganizing factors, WASp and SCAR, and Kirre remaining on the myotube surface and Sns preferentially taken up with other membrane proteins into early endosomes and lysosomes in the myotube.
Project description:Myoblast fusion (a critical process by which muscles grow) occurs in a multi-step fashion that requires actin and membrane remodeling; but important questions remain regarding the spatial/temporal regulation of and interrelationship between these processes. We recently reported that the Rho-GAP, GRAF1, was particularly abundant in muscles undergoing fusion to form multinucleated fibers and that enforced expression of GRAF1 in cultured myoblasts induced robust fusion by a process that required GAP-dependent actin remodeling and BAR domain-dependent membrane sculpting. Herein we developed a novel line of GRAF1-deficient mice to explore a role for this protein in the formation/maturation of myotubes in vivo. Post-natal muscles from GRAF1-depleted mice exhibited a significant and persistent reduction in cross-sectional area, impaired regenerative capacity and a significant decrease in force production indicative of lack of efficient myoblast fusion. A significant fusion defect was recapitulated in isolated myoblasts depleted of GRAF1 or its closely related family member GRAF2. Mechanistically, we show that GRAF1 and 2 facilitate myoblast fusion, at least in part, by promoting vesicle-mediated translocation of fusogenic ferlin proteins to the plasma membrane.
Project description:A key early player in the regulation of myoblast fusion is the gene dumbfounded (duf, also known as kirre). Duf must be expressed, and function, in founder cells (FCs). A fixed number of FCs are chosen from a pool of equivalent myoblasts and serve to attract fusion-competent myoblasts (FCMs) to fuse with them to form a multinucleate muscle-fibre. The spatial and temporal regulation of duf expression and function are important and play a deciding role in choice of fibre number, location and perhaps size. We have used a combination of bioinformatics and functional enhancer deletion approaches to understand the regulation of duf. By transgenic enhancer-reporter deletion analysis of the duf regulatory region, we found that several distinct enhancer modules regulate duf expression in specific muscle founders of the embryo and the adult. In addition to existing bioinformatics tools, we used a new program for analysis of regulatory sequence, PhyloGibbs-MP, whose development was largely motivated by the requirements of this work. The results complement our deletion analysis by identifying transcription factors whose predicted binding regions match with our deletion constructs. Experimental evidence for the relevance of some of these TF binding sites comes from available ChIP-on-chip from the literature, and from our analysis of localization of myogenic transcription factors with duf enhancer reporter gene expression. Our results demonstrate the complex regulation in each founder cell of a gene that is expressed in all founder cells. They provide evidence for transcriptional control--both activation and repression--as an important player in the regulation of myoblast fusion. The set of enhancer constructs generated will be valuable in identifying novel trans-acting factor-binding sites and chromatin regulation during myoblast fusion in Drosophila. Our results and the bioinformatics tools developed provide a basis for the study of the transcriptional regulation of other complex genes.
Project description:Myoblast fusion provides a fundamental, conserved mechanism for muscle fiber growth. We demonstrate here that the functional contribution of Wsp, the Drosophila homolog of the conserved actin nucleation-promoting factor (NPF) WASp, is essential for myoblast fusion during the formation of muscles of the adult fly. Disruption of Wsp function results in complete arrest of myoblast fusion in all muscles examined. Wsp activity during adult Drosophila myogenesis is specifically required for muscle cell fusion and is crucial both for the formation of new muscle fibers and for the growth of muscles derived from persistent larval templates. Although Wsp is expressed both in fibers and individual myoblasts, its activity in either one of these cell types is sufficient. SCAR, a second major Arp2/3 NPF, is also required during adult myoblast fusion. Formation of fusion-associated actin 'foci' is dependent on Arp2/3 complex function, but appears to rely on a distinct, unknown nucleator. The comprehensive nature of these requirements identifies Arp2/3-based branched actin polymerization as a universal mechanism underlying myoblast fusion.
Project description:Muscles ensure locomotion behavior of invertebrate and vertebrate organisms. They are highly specialized and form using conserved developmental programs. To identify new players in muscle development we screened Drosophila and zebrafish gene expression databases for orthologous genes expressed in embryonic muscles. We selected more than 100 candidates. Among them is the glycolysis gene Pglym78/pgam2, the attenuated expression of which results in the formation of thinner muscles in Drosophila embryos. This phenotype is also observed in fast muscle fibers of pgam2 zebrafish morphants, suggesting affected myoblast fusion. Indeed, a detailed analysis of developing muscles in Pglym78 RNAi embryos reveals loss of fusion-associated actin foci and an inefficient Notch decay in fusion competent myoblasts, both known to be required for fusion. In addition to Pglym78, our screen identifies six other genes involved in glycolysis or in pyruvate metabolism (Pfk, Tpi, Gapdh, Pgk, Pyk, and Impl3). They are synchronously activated in embryonic muscles and attenuation of their expression leads to similar muscle phenotypes, which are characterized by fibers with reduced size and the presence of unfused myoblasts. Our data also show that the cell size triggering insulin pathway positively regulates glycolysis in developing muscles and that blocking the insulin or target of rapamycin pathways phenocopies the loss of function phenotypes of glycolytic genes, leading to myoblast fusion arrest and reduced muscle size. Collectively, these data suggest that setting metabolism to glycolysis-stimulated biomass production is part of a core myogenic program that operates in both invertebrate and vertebrate embryos and promotes formation of syncytial muscles.
Project description:Fusion of individual myoblasts to form multinucleated myofibers constitutes a widely conserved program for growth of the somatic musculature. We have used electron microscopy methods to study this key form of cell-cell fusion during development of the indirect flight muscles (IFMs) of Drosophila melanogaster. We find that IFM myoblast-myotube fusion proceeds in a stepwise fashion and is governed by apparent cross talk between transmembrane and cytoskeletal elements. Our analysis suggests that cell adhesion is necessary for bringing myoblasts to within a minimal distance from the myotubes. The branched actin polymerization machinery acts subsequently to promote tight apposition between the surfaces of the two cell types and formation of multiple sites of cell-cell contact, giving rise to nascent fusion pores whose expansion establishes full cytoplasmic continuity. Given the conserved features of IFM myogenesis, this sequence of cell interactions and membrane events and the mechanistic significance of cell adhesion elements and the actin-based cytoskeleton are likely to represent general principles of the myoblast fusion process.
Project description:Myoblast fusion is crucial for the formation, growth, maintenance and regeneration of healthy skeletal muscle. Unfortunately, the molecular machinery, cell behaviors, and membrane and cytoskeletal remodeling events that govern fusion and myofiber formation remain poorly understood. Using time-lapse imaging approaches on mouse C2C12 myoblasts, we identify discrete and specific molecular events at myoblast membranes during fusion and myotube formation. These events include rearrangement of cell shape from fibroblast to spindle-like morphologies, changes in lamellipodial and filopodial extensions during different periods of differentiation, and changes in membrane alignment and organization during fusion. We find that actin-cytoskeleton remodeling is crucial for these events: pharmacological inhibition of F-actin polymerization leads to decreased lamellipodial and filopodial extensions and to reduced myoblast fusion. Additionally, shRNA-mediated inhibition of Nap1, a member of the WAVE actin-remodeling complex, results in accumulations of F-actin structures at the plasma membrane that are concomitant with a decrease in myoblast fusion. Our data highlight distinct and essential roles for actin cytoskeleton remodeling during mammalian myoblast fusion, provide a platform for cellular and molecular dissection of the fusion process, and suggest a functional conservation of Nap1-regulated actin-cytoskeleton remodeling during myoblast fusion between mammals and Drosophila.
Project description:The body wall muscle of a Drosophila larva is generated by fusion between founder cells and fusion-competent myoblasts (FCMs). Initially, a founder cell recognizes and fuses with one or two FCMs to form a muscle precursor, then the developing syncitia fuses with additional FCMs to form a muscle fiber. These interactions require members of the immunoglobulin superfamily (IgSF), with Kin-of-IrreC (Kirre) and Roughest (Rst) functioning redundantly in the founder cell and Sticks-and-stones (Sns) serving as their ligand in the FCMs. Previous studies have not resolved the role of Hibris (Hbs), a paralog of Sns, suggesting that it functions as a positive regulator of myoblast fusion and as a negative regulator that antagonizes the activity of Sns. The results herein resolve this issue, demonstrating that sns and hbs function redundantly in the formation of several muscle precursors, and that loss of one copy of sns enhances the myoblast fusion phenotype of hbs mutants. We further show that excess Hbs rescues some fusion in sns mutant embryos beyond precursor formation, consistent with its ability to drive myoblast fusion, but show using chimeric molecules that Hbs functions less efficiently than Sns. In conjunction with a physical association between Hbs and SNS in cis, these data account for the previously observed UAS-hbs overexpression phenotypes. Lastly, we demonstrate that either an Hbs or Sns cytodomain is essential for muscle precursor formation, and signaling from IgSF members found exclusively in the founder cells is not sufficient to direct precursor formation.