Muscle-derived TRAIL negatively regulates myogenic differentiation

Dongwook Kim, Nilmani Singh, Rachel J. Waldemer-Streyer, Mee Sup Yoon, Jie Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) is known to induce apoptosis in cancer cells, although non-apoptotic functions have also been reported for this cytokine in various cell types. TRAIL and its receptor TRAIL-R2 are expressed in skeletal muscles, but a potential role of muscle-derived TRAIL in myogenesis has not been explored. Here we report that TRAIL is an autocrine regulator of myogenic differentiation. Knockdown of TRAIL or TRAIL-R2 enhanced C2C12 myoblast differentiation, and recombinant TRAIL inhibited expression of the cell cycle inhibitor p21, accompanied by suppression of myoblasts from exiting the cell cycle, a requisite step in the myogenic differentiation process. Blocking cell cycle progression restored differentiation from inhibition by recombinant TRAIL, supporting the notion that TRAIL exerts its effect in myogenesis through modulating cell cycle exit. We also found that TRAIL knockdown led to enhanced muscle regeneration in mice upon injury, recapitulating the in vitro observation. Additionally, inhibition of ERK activation reversed the negative effect of recombinant TRAIL on p21 expression and myoblast differentiation, suggesting that ERK signaling may be a mediator of TRAIL's function to suppress cell cycle withdrawal and inhibit differentiation. Taken together, our findings uncover a muscle cell-autonomous non-apoptotic function of TRAIL in skeletal myogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112165
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Cell cycle withdrawal
  • ERK
  • Muscle regeneration
  • Myogenic differentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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