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Lin28a maintains a subset of adult muscle stem cells in an embryonic-like state

Peng Wang1,2,3,† , Xupeng Liu1,2,3,† , Ziyue Yao1,2,3 , Yu Chen1,2,3 , Lanfang Luo1,2,3 , Kun Liang1,2,3 , Jun-Hao Elwin Tan4,5,6,7 , Min-Wen Jason Chua4,5,6,7 , Yan-Jiang Benjamin Chua4,5,6,7 , Shilin Ma1,2,3 , Liping Zhang1,2,3 , Wenwu Ma1,2,3 , Shuqing Liu1,2,3 , Wenhua Cao1,2,3 , Luyao Guo1,2,3 , Lu Guang1,2,3 , Yuefan Wang1,2,3 , He Zhao1,2,3 , Na Ai3,8 , Yun Li3,8 , Chunwei Li9 , Ruiqi Rachel Wang1,2 , Bin Tean Teh6,7 , Lan Jiang8 , Kang Yu9 , Ng Shyh-Chang1,2,3,*

1Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
2Beijing Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Institute for Stem Cell and Regeneration, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
3University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
4NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
5Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Genome Institute of Singapore, Agency for Science Technology and Research, Singapore, Singapore
6Laboratory of Cancer Therapeutics, Program in Cancer and Stem Cell Biology, Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School, Singapore, Singapore
7Laboratory of Cancer Epigenome, Division of Medical Science, National Cancer Centre Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
8CAS Key Laboratory of Genome Sciences and Information, Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
9Department of Clinical Nutrition, Beijing, China
These authors contributed equally: Peng Wang, Xupeng Liu
* Correspondence: Ng Shyh-Chang(

During homeostasis and after injury, adult muscle stem cells (MuSCs) activate to mediate muscle regeneration. However, much remains unclear regarding the heterogeneous capacity of MuSCs for self-renewal and regeneration. Here, we show that Lin28a is expressed in embryonic limb bud muscle progenitors, and that a rare reserve subset of Lin28a+Pax7 skeletal MuSCs can respond to injury at adult stage by replenishing the Pax7+ MuSC pool to drive muscle regeneration. Compared with adult Pax7+ MuSCs, Lin28a+ MuSCs displayed enhanced myogenic potency in vitro and in vivo upon transplantation. The epigenome of adult Lin28a+ MuSCs showed resemblance to embryonic muscle progenitors. In addition, RNA-sequencing revealed that Lin28a+ MuSCs co-expressed higher levels of certain embryonic limb bud transcription factors, telomerase components and the p53 inhibitor Mdm4, and lower levels of myogenic differentiation markers compared to adult Pax7+ MuSCs, resulting in enhanced self-renewal and stress-response signatures. Functionally, conditional ablation and induction of Lin28a+ MuSCs in adult mice revealed that these cells are necessary and sufficient for efficient muscle regeneration. Together, our findings connect the embryonic factor Lin28a to adult stem cell self-renewal and juvenile regeneration.


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