Flt3L is a novel regulator of skeletal myogenesis

Yejing Ge, Rachel J. Waldemer, Ramakrishna Nalluri, Paul D. Nuzzi, Jie Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Various cues initiate multiple signaling pathways to regulate the highly coordinated process of skeletal myogenesis. Myoblast differentiation comprises a series of ordered events starting with cell cycle withdrawal and ending with myocyte fusion, with each step probably controlled by multiple extracellular signals and intracellular signaling pathways. Here we report the identification of Fms-like tyrokine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L) signaling as a novel regulator of skeletal myogenesis. Flt3L is a multifunctional cytokine in immune cells, but its involvement in skeletal muscle formation has not been reported. We found that Flt3L is expressed in C2C12 myoblasts, with levels increasing throughout differentiation. Knockdown of Flt3L, or its receptor Flt3, suppresses myoblast differentiation, which is rescued by recombinant Flt3L or Flt3, respectively. Differentiation is not rescued, however, by recombinant ligand when the receptor is knocked down, or vice versa, suggesting that Flt3L and Flt3 function together. Flt3L knockdown also inhibits differentiation in mouse primary myoblasts. Both Flt3L and Flt3 are highly expressed in nascent myofibers during muscle regeneration in vivo, and Flt3L siRNA impairs muscle regeneration, validating the physiological significance of Flt3L function in myogenesis. We have identified a cellular mechanism for the myogenic function of Flt3L, as we show that Flt3L promotes cell cycle exit that is necessary for myogenic differentiation. Furthermore, we identify Erk as a relevant target of Flt3L signaling during myogenesis, and demonstrate that Flt3L suppresses Erk signaling through p120RasGAP. In summary, our work reveals an unexpected role for an immunoregulatory cytokine in skeletal myogenesis and a new myogenic pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3370-3379
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2013


  • Erk
  • Flt3L
  • Myoblast differentiation
  • Signaling
  • Skeletal myogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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