Background: Skeletal muscle fiber formation requires myoblast cell-cell membrane contact and fusion. Results: A versican-rich pericellular matrix surrounding myoblasts is proteolytically cleared by ADAMTS versicanases facilitating myoblast contact and fusion. Conclusion: Versican processing by ADAMTS versicanases contribute to muscle fiber formation. Significance: Targeting versican remodeling could enhance the regenerative capacity of muscle by improving muscle fiber fusion during regeneration. Skeletal muscle development and regeneration requires the fusion of myoblasts into multinucleated myotubes. Because the enzymatic proteolysis of a hyaluronan and versican-rich matrix by ADAMTS versicanases is required for developmental morphogenesis, we hypothesized that the clearance of versican may facilitate the fusion of myoblasts during myogenesis. Here, we used transgenic mice and an in vitro model of myoblast fusion, C2C12 cells, to determine a potential role forADAMTSversicanases. Versican processing was observed during in vivo myogenesis at the time when myoblasts were fusing to form multinucleated myotubes. Relevant ADAMTS genes, chief among them Adamts5 and Adamts15, were expressed both in developing embryonic muscle and differentiating C2C12 cells. Reducing the levels of Adamts5 mRNA in vitro impaired myoblast fusion, which could be rescued with catalytically active but not the inactive forms of ADAMTS5 or ADAMTS15. The addition of inactive ADAMTS5, ADAMTS15, or full-length V1 versican effectively impaired myoblast fusion. Finally, the expansion of a hyaluronan and versican-rich matrix was observed upon reducing the levels of Adamts5 mRNA in myoblasts. These data indicate that these ADAMTS proteinases contribute to the formation of multinucleated myotubes such as is necessary for both skeletal muscle development and during regeneration, by remodeling a versican-rich pericellular matrix of myoblasts. Our study identifies a possible pathway to target for the improvement of myogenesis in a plethora of diseases including cancer cachexia, sarcopenia, and muscular dystrophy.
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