A defined N6-methyladenosine (m6A) profile conferred by METTL3 regulates muscle stem cell/myoblast state transitions

Academic Article


  • Muscle-specific adult stem cells (MuSCs) are required for skeletal muscle regeneration. To ensure efficient skeletal muscle regeneration after injury, MuSCs must undergo state transitions as they are activated from quiescence, give rise to a population of proliferating myoblasts, and continue either to terminal differentiation, to repair or replace damaged myofibers, or self-renewal to repopulate the quiescent population. Changes in MuSC/myoblast state are accompanied by dramatic shifts in their transcriptional profile. Previous reports in other adult stem cell systems have identified alterations in the most abundant internal mRNA modification, N6-methyladenosine (m6A), conferred by its active writer, METTL3, to regulate cell state transitions through alterations in the transcriptional profile of these cells. Our objective was to determine if m6A-modification deposition via METTL3 is a regulator of MuSC/myoblast state transitions in vitro and in vivo. Using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry we identified that global m6A levels increase during the early stages of skeletal muscle regeneration, in vivo, and decline when C2C12 myoblasts transition from proliferation to differentiation, in vitro. Using m6A-specific RNA-sequencing (MeRIP-seq), a distinct profile of m6A-modification was identified, distinguishing proliferating from differentiating C2C12 myoblasts. RNAi studies show that reducing levels of METTL3, the active m6A methyltransferase, reduced global m6A levels and forced C2C12 myoblasts to prematurely differentiate. Reducing levels of METTL3 in primary mouse MuSCs prior to transplantation enhanced their engraftment capacity upon primary transplantation, however their capacity for serial transplantation was lost. In conclusion, METTL3 regulates m6A levels in MuSCs/myoblasts and controls the transition of MuSCs/myoblasts to different cell states. Furthermore, the first transcriptome wide map of m6A-modifications in proliferating and differentiating C2C12 myoblasts is provided and reveals a number of genes that may regulate MuSC/myoblast state transitions which had not been previously identified.
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    Author List

  • Gheller BJ; Blum JE; Fong EHH; Malysheva OV; Cosgrove BD; Thalacker-Mercer AE
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 1