PAX7 is required for patterning the esophageal musculature
The mammalian esophageal musculature is unique in that it makes a transition from smooth to skeletal muscle, with most of this process occurring after birth. In order to better understand the mechanisms that control esophageal musculature development, we investigated the roles in this process of the paired box transcription factor, PAX7, a principal regulator of skeletal myogenic progenitor cells. Previous studies showed that Pax7 is important for determining the esophageal muscle composition.
We characterized the postnatal development of the esophageal musculature in Pax7 −/− mice by analyzing morphology, muscle composition, and the expression of markers of myogenesis, cell proliferation, and apoptosis. Pax7 −/− mice displayed megaesophagus with a severe defect in the postnatal developmental process whereby esophageal smooth muscle is replaced by skeletal muscle. Pax7 −/− esophagi have substantially reduced skeletal muscle, most likely due to diminished proliferation and premature differentiation of skeletal muscle precursor cells. This impaired the proximal-to-distal progression of skeletal myogenesis and indirectly affected the patterning of the smooth muscle-containing portion of the esophageal musculature.
Postnatal patterning of the esophageal musculature appears to require robust, PAX7-dependent cell proliferation to drive the proximal-to-distal progression of skeletal myogenesis. This process in turn influences distal smooth muscle morphogenesis and development of the mature pattern of the esophageal musculature.
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- Skeletal Muscle
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- December 3, 2015