Role of integrin α7β1 signaling in myoblast differentiation on aligned polydioxanone scaffolds

Michael J. McClure, Nicholas M. Clark, Sharon L. Hyzy, Charles E. Chalfant, Rene Olivares-Navarrete, Barbara D. Boyan, Zvi Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The aligned structural environment in skeletal muscle is believed to be a crucial component in functional muscle regeneration. Myotube formation is increased on aligned biomaterials, but we do not fully understand the mechanisms that direct this enhanced fusion. Previous studies indicate that the α7 integrin subunit is upregulated during myoblast differentiation, suggesting that signaling via α7β1 mediates the effect of alignment. To test this hypothesis, we took advantage of an in vitro model using random and aligned polydioxanone (PDO) matrices and C2C12 myoblasts. We measured expression and production of myoblast markers: paired box-7 (Pax7), myogenic differentiation factor-1 (MyoD), myogenin (MyoG), myogenic factor-6 (Myf6), and myosin heavy chain (MyHC). To examine the role of α7β1 signaling, we measured expression and production of α7, α5, and β1 and myoblast markers in wild type cells and in cells silenced for α7 and assessed effects of silencing on myogenic differentiation. Downstream signaling via ERK1/2 mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) was examined using a specific MEK1/2 inhibitor. Alignment increased mRNAs and protein for early (MyoD) and late (MyoG, MyHC) myoblast markers in comparison to non-aligned matrices, and these levels corresponded with increased α7 protein. α7-silencing reduced MyoG and MyHC protein in cells cultured on tissue culture polystyrene and aligned PDO matrices compared to wild type cells. Inhibition of ERK1/2 blocked effects of alignment. These data suggest that alignment regulates myogenic differentiation via α7β1 integrin signaling and ERK1/2 mediated gene expression. Statement of Significance Muscle regeneration in severe muscle injuries is complex, requiring a sequence of events to promote healing and not fibrosis. Aligned biomaterials that recapitulate muscle environments hold potential to facilitate regeneration, but it is important to understand cell-substrate signaling to form functional muscle. A critical component of muscle signaling is integrin α7β1, where mice lacking α7 exhibit a dystrophic phenotype and impaired regeneration. Here, we report the role of α7β1 signaling in myoblast differentiation on aligned biomaterials. α7-silenced myoblasts were found to regulate myogenic differentiation and demonstrate defective fusion. Our data shows reduced levels of myogenin and myosin heavy chain protein, while MyoD remains unchanged. These results support the hypothesis that α7β1 signaling plays a role in substrate-dependent tissue engineering strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-54
Number of pages11
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - Jul 15 2016


  • Biomimetic material
  • Muscle
  • Myoblast differentiation
  • Polydioxanone fiber alignment
  • Surface topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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