Norris, W., Neyt, C., Ingham, P.W., and Currie, P.D. (2000) Slow muscle induction by Hedgehog signalling in vitro. Journal of Cell Science. 113(Pt.15):2695-2703.
Muscles are composed of several fibre types, the precise combination of which determines muscle function. Whereas neonatal and adult fibre type is influenced by a number of extrinsic factors, such as neural input and muscle load, there is little knowledge of how muscle cells are initially determined in the early embryo. In the zebrafish, fibres of the slow twitch class arise from precociously specified myoblasts that lie close to the midline whereas the remainder of the myotome differentiates as fast myosin expressing muscle. In vivo evidence has suggested the Sonic Hedgehog glycoprotein, secreted from the notochord, controls the formation of slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fates. Here we describe an in vitro culture system that we have developed to test directly the ability of zebrafish myoblasts to respond to exogenous Sonic Hedgehog peptide. We find that Sonic Hedgehog peptide can control the binary cell fate choice of embryonic zebrafish myoblasts in vitro. We have also used this culture system to assay the relative activities of different Hedgehog-family proteins and to investigate the possible involvement of heterotrimeric G-proteins in Hedgehog signal transduction.