The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 44: 421 - 428 (2000)

Vol 44, Issue 4

M-calpain levels increase during fusion of myoblasts in the mutant muscular dysgenesis (mdg) mouse

Published: 30 November -0001

S Joffroy, N Dourdin, J P Delage, P Cottin, J Koenig and J J Brustis

Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Cellulaire, Université de Bordeaux II, Talence, France.


Previous studies have led to the hypothesis of a possible role for the calcium-dependent neutral protease m-calpain in myoblast fusion in culture. To evaluate this hypothesis, we chose as our model, the "muscular dysgenesis" mouse (mdg), which presents in vivo and in vitro characteristics of an elevated process of fusion (Yao and Essien, 1975; Dussartre, 1993; Ashby et al., 1993, Joffroy et al., 1999). The aim of this study was to demonstrate using myoblast cell lines and muscle biopsies from this mdg mutant, that the amount of m-calpain increases significantly as multinucleated myotubes are formed. Using immunoblot analysis, it was shown that the m-calpain concentration in a dysgenic cell line (GLT) increased 3-fold compared to what it was upon the introduction of the differentiation medium. On the other hand, in a normal cell line (NLT), the concentration of m-calpain did not vary significantly. Thus, when the transition from myoblasts to myotubes was slow, and the absolute level of fusion was reduced, as in the NLT cell line, the level of m-calpain was stable. In contrast, when the process of fusion was precocious and fast, and the level of fusion was elevated, such as in the GLT cell line, the concentration of m-calpain increased during fusion. Moreover, when myoblast fusion was prevented by the addition of calpain inhibitor II, the process was reduced by approximately 93%. Taking into account these observations, it is clear from our data that the muscular dysgenesis mouse provides a relevant model to study myoblast fusion and that m-calpain is involved in this process.

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