The development of skeletal muscle is a complex and highly regulated process that occurs during embryonic development. It involves the differentiation and fusion of myoblasts, which are the precursor cells of skeletal muscle fibers. This process is tightly controlled by various signaling pathways and transcription factors.

The development of skeletal muscle begins during early embryogenesis. The first step is the specification of myogenic progenitor cells, which will give rise to the muscle fibers. These progenitor cells originate from the mesoderm, one of the three primary germ layers in the developing embryo. The mesoderm undergoes a process called somitogenesis, where it is divided into segments called somites. The somites contain the myogenic progenitor cells, also known as somite-derived cells.

The specification of myogenic progenitor cells is regulated by a group of transcription factors known as the myogenic regulatory factors (MRFs). The MRFs include Myf5, MyoD, Myogenin, and MRF4. These transcription factors are expressed in a specific temporal and spatial pattern during embryonic development. Myf5 and MyoD are expressed early in development and are required for the determination and commitment of myogenic progenitor cells to the skeletal muscle lineage.

Once specified, myogenic progenitor cells undergo proliferation to increase their numbers. This proliferation is regulated by various growth factors and signaling pathways, including fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), and Notch signaling. These signals promote cell division and prevent premature differentiation of myogenic progenitor cells.

After proliferation, myogenic progenitor cells exit the cell cycle and undergo terminal differentiation to form multinucleated muscle fibers. This process involves the fusion of myoblasts, which are mononucleated precursor cells derived from myogenic progenitors. The fusion of myoblasts is mediated by cell adhesion molecules such as N-cadherin and myomaker.

During fusion, the myoblasts align and form nascent myotubes, which are elongated structures containing multiple nuclei. The nascent myotubes then undergo further maturation and remodeling to form mature muscle fibers. This maturation process involves the expression of muscle-specific proteins such as myosin heavy chain and the organization of sarcomeres, the contractile units of muscle fibers.


The development of skeletal muscle is also influenced by extracellular matrix (ECM) components. The ECM provides structural support and regulates cell behavior during muscle development. It contains various proteins, including collagen, laminin, and fibronectin, which interact with cell surface receptors to modulate signaling pathways involved in muscle development.

In addition to embryonic development, skeletal muscle can also undergo postnatal growth and regeneration. Postnatal growth occurs through a combination of hypertrophy (increase in muscle fiber size) and hyperplasia (increase in the number of muscle fibers). Muscle regeneration, on the other hand, occurs in response to injury or exercise-induced damage. It involves the activation of quiescent satellite cells, which are adult stem cells located between the basal lamina and the plasma membrane of muscle fibers. Upon activation, satellite cells proliferate and differentiate to repair or replace damaged muscle fibers.

In summary, the development of skeletal muscle involves the specification, proliferation, fusion, and maturation of myogenic progenitor cells. This process is regulated by various signaling pathways, transcription factors, and extracellular matrix components. Understanding the mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle development is crucial for unraveling the pathogenesis of muscle diseases and developing therapeutic strategies for their treatment.


The development of myotomes and their derivatives

The development of myotomes and their derivatives is a complex process that plays a crucial role in the formation of skeletal muscles in vertebrates. Myotomes are segments of embryonic mesoderm that give rise to the musculature of the body. They are divided into two main divisions: epaxial and hypaxial, each giving rise to distinct sets of muscles.

During early embryonic development, somites form along the length of the neural tube in a process known as somitogenesis. Somites are transient structures that eventually differentiate into various tissues, including the myotomes. The process of myotome development involves intricate molecular signaling and cellular interactions.


The epaxial division of myotomes gives rise to the muscles associated with the dorsal part of the body, including the deep back muscles, muscles of the vertebral column, and some muscles associated with the ribs. The development of epaxial myotomes is regulated by a signaling molecule called Sonic hedgehog (Shh), which is secreted by the notochord and floor plate cells in the neural tube. Shh acts as a morphogen, creating a concentration gradient that determines the fate of cells within the developing myotome. Higher concentrations of Shh induce the expression of specific transcription factors, such as Pax3 and Pax7, which promote muscle differentiation within the epaxial myotome.

The derivatives of epaxial myotomes include several important muscle groups. One example is the erector spinae group, which consists of three muscles: iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis. These muscles play a crucial role in maintaining posture and extending the vertebral column. Another example is the transversospinalis group, which includes muscles like semispinalis, multifidus, and rotatores. These muscles are responsible for rotation and stabilization of the spine.

On the other hand, the hypaxial division of myotomes gives rise to the muscles associated with the ventral part of the body, including the muscles of the limbs, abdominal wall, and diaphragm. The development of hypaxial myotomes is regulated by a different set of signaling molecules, such as fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs). These molecules are secreted by various tissues surrounding the developing myotome, including the neural tube, notochord, and lateral plate mesoderm.

The derivatives of hypaxial myotomes include a wide range of muscles. In the limbs, they give rise to muscles like biceps brachii, triceps brachii, quadriceps femoris, and gastrocnemius. These muscles are responsible for limb movement and locomotion. In the abdominal wall, hypaxial myotomes give rise to muscles like rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique, and transversus abdominis. These muscles play a crucial role in core stability and trunk movements. Lastly, in the thoracic region, hypaxial myotomes give rise to the diaphragm muscle, which is essential for respiration.


In summary, the development of myotomes and their derivatives is a highly regulated process involving intricate molecular signaling and cellular interactions. The epaxial division gives rise to muscles associated with the dorsal part of the body, while the hypaxial division gives rise to muscles associated with the ventral part of the body. Understanding the development of myotomes is crucial for comprehending muscle formation and function in vertebrates.

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