Milli-calpain, a member of the ubiquitous cysteine protease family, is known to control late events of cell-cell fusion in skeletal muscle tissue through its involvement in cell membrane and cytoskeleton component reorganization. In this report, we describe the characterization of m-calpain compartmentalization and activation during the initial steps of muscle precursor cell recruitment and differentiation. By immunofluorescence analysis, we show that m-calpain is present throughout the cell cycle in the nucleus of proliferating myoblast C2 cells. However, when myoblasts enter a quiescent/G0 stage, m-calpain staining is detected only in the cytoplasm. Moreover, comparison of healthy and injured muscle shows distinct m-calpain localization in satellite stem cells. Indeed, m-calpain is not found in quiescent satellite cells, but following muscle injury, when satellite cells start to proliferate, m-calpain appears in the nucleus. To determine the implication of m-calpain during the cell cycle progression, quiescent myoblasts were forced to re-enter the cell cycle in the presence or not of the specific calpain inhibitor MDL 28170. We demonstrate that this calpain inhibitor blocks the cell cycle, prevents accumulation of MyoD in the G1 phase and enhances Myf5 expression. These data support an important new role for m-calpain in the control of muscle precursor cell activation and thus suggest its possible implication during the initial events of muscle regeneration. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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