A common somitic origin for embryonic muscle progenitors and satellite cells


In the embryo and in the adult, skeletal muscle growth is dependent on the proliferation and the differentiation of muscle progenitors present within muscle masses. Despite the importance of these progenitors, their embryonic origin is unclear1,2. Here we use electroporation of green fluorescent protein in chick somites3, video confocal microscopy analysis of cell movements, and quail–chick grafting experiments to show that the dorsal compartment of the somite, the dermomyotome, is the origin of a population of muscle progenitors that contribute to the growth of trunk muscles during embryonic and fetal life. Furthermore, long-term lineage analyses indicate that satellite cells, which are known progenitors of adult skeletal muscles4, derive from the same dermomyotome cell population. We conclude that embryonic muscle progenitors and satellite cells share a common origin that can be traced back to the dermomyotome.

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Figure 1: The EMT of the dermomyotome triggers the emergence of a BrdU-positive cell population in the myotome.
Figure 2: Direct translocation of dermomyotome cells into the primary myotome.
Figure 3: Dermomyotome-derived cells contribute to embryonic muscle growth.
Figure 4: Satellite cells are derived from the dermomyotome.


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We thank K. Tosney for discussions on the process of dermomyotome EMT, and O. Pourquié, T. Lecuit, S. Kerridge and U. Rothbächer for comments on the manuscript. We acknowledge the help of C. Moretti and P. Weber from the Institute's Imaging Facility and of the Zeiss team. This study was funded by grants from the Actions Concertées Incitatives, the Association Française contre les Myopathies and by the EEU 6th Framework Programme Network of Excellence MYORES. J.G. and M.M. are Fellows from the Ministère de la Recherche et des Technologies.

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Correspondence to Christophe Marcelle.

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The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Legends

Legends to accompany the Supplementary Figures and Supplementary Video. (DOC 23 kb)


This movie is a time-lapse confocal analysis showing the direct translocation of dermomyotome cells into the myotome. (MOV 7295 kb)

Supplementary Video S1

This movie is a time-lapse confocal analysis showing the direct translocation of dermomyotome cells into the myotome. (MOV 7295 kb)

Supplementary Figure S1

Contribution of dermomyotome-derived cells to embryonic muscle growth. (JPG 151 kb)

Supplementary Figure S2

Dermomyotome borders do not significantly contribute to muscle growth. (JPG 79 kb)

Supplementary Figure S3

Satellite cells observed in the muscle masses at E18 derive from the dermomyotome of the manuscript. (JPG 89 kb)

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Gros, J., Manceau, M., Thomé, V. et al. A common somitic origin for embryonic muscle progenitors and satellite cells. Nature 435, 954–958 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03572

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