Regulation of Motility of Myogenic Cells in Filling Limb
Muscle Anlagen by Pitx2
Adam L. Campbell1, Hung-Ping Shih2, Jun Xu1, Michael K. Gross1, Chrissa Kioussi1*
1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, United States of America, 2Department of Pediatrics,
Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, United States of America
Cells of the ventrolateral dermomyotome delaminate and migrate into the limb buds where they give rise to all muscles of
the limbs. The migratory cells proliferate and form myoblasts, which withdraw from the cell cycle to become terminally
differentiated myocytes. The myogenic lineage colonizes pre-patterned regions to form muscle anlagen as muscle fibers are
assembled. The regulatory mechanisms that control the later steps of this myogenic program are not well understood. The
homeodomain transcription factor Pitx2 is expressed specifically in the muscle lineage from the migration of precursors to
adult muscle. Ablation of Pitx2 results in distortion, rather than loss, of limb muscle anlagen, suggesting that its function
becomes critical during the colonization of, and/or fiber assembly in, the anlagen. Microarrays were used to identify changes
in gene expression in flow-sorted migratory muscle precursors, labeled by Lbx1EGFP/+, which resulted from the loss of Pitx2.
Very few genes showed changes in expression. Many small-fold, yet significant, changes were observed in genes encoding
cytoskeletal and adhesion proteins which play a role in cell motility. Myogenic cells from genetically-tagged mice were
cultured and subjected to live cell-tracking analysis using time-lapse imaging. Myogenic cells lacking Pitx2 were smaller,
more symmetrical, and had more actin bundling. They also migrated about half of the total distance and velocity. Decreased
motility may prevent myogenic cells from filling pre-patterned regions of the limb bud in a timely manner. Altered shape
may prevent proper assembly of higher-order fibers within anlagen. Pitx2 therefore appears to regulate muscle anlagen
development by appropriately balancing expression of cytoskeletal and adhesion molecules.
Citation: Campbell AL, Shih H-P, Xu J, Gross MK, Kioussi C (2012) Regulation of Motility of Myogenic Cells in Filling Limb Muscle Anlagen by Pitx2. PLoS ONE 7(4):
Editor: Atsushi Asakura, University of Minnesota Medical School, United States of America
Received February 7, 2012; Accepted March 22, 2012; Published April 27, 2012
Copyright: ? 2012 Campbell et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits
unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funding: This work was supported by National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH-NIAMS) grant
AR054406 to CK. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
* E-mail: email@example.com
During embryogenesis the paraxial mesoderm along the dorsal-
ventral axis undergoes segmentation giving rise to the somites.
These somites further differentiate to give rise to the dermomyo-
tome and the sclerotome. The dermomyotome is subdivided into
the epaxial and hypaxial dermomyotomes, and is the source of
muscle progenitor cells that will form the deep back and lateral
trunk musculature. Cells of the hypaxial dermomyotome delam-
inate and migrate to the regions of presumptive muscle group in
the developing limbs. Formation of limb migratory muscle
progenitor (MMP) cells begins when inductive cues from the
lateral mesoderm and surface ectoderm synergistically induce the
expression of Lbx1 within the ventrolateral Pax3 expression
domain of dermomyotomes at limb levels . The lateral
mesoderm also provides signals that repress myogenesis in limb
level dermomyotomes , and promote their delamination [3,4]
and migration  into the limb bud. Lbx1 expression in mice
begins in the dermomyotome lips at E9.25 at forelimb levels, and
is required for lateral migration. The dorsal and ventral muscle
masses of E10.5 mouse limb buds consist of Lbx1+/Pax3+limb
muscle progenitor (MP) cells . Numerous Lbx1+/Pax3+
myogenic cells persist in all limb muscle anlagen until at least
E12.5. In the period between E11 and E12.5 the muscle masses
enlarge, split and ultimately become the muscle anlagen, which
resemble the adult muscles in shape and position with respect to
bone anlagen. MP cells proliferate undergo withdrawal from the
cell cycle and become terminally differentiated myocytes Pax3 and
Lbx1 have generally been placed at the beginning of myogenic
progression and activation of the Muscle Regulatory Factors
(MRFs) in the embryonic limb because they are expressed earlier
and their mutation leads to a loss of migratory precursors before
MRFs are normally expressed [6,7,8,9,10]. These myocytes fuse
with each other to form multinucleated myotubes and muscle
fibers. The precise regulatory mechanisms that control each step of
the myogenic program are not well understood to date.
MP cells must maintain adhesion throughout morphogenesis in
order to develop into terminally differentiated muscle . In
order to migrate efficiently, the migrating cell must orientate the
internal cellular machinery to a highly polarized, locally
segregated, tightly regulated, and rapidly adaptable entity that
can be rearranged in a coordinated manner. Migration occurs in a
cyclical process, beginning with an external signal such as a growth
factors, chemokines, mechanical forces, and ECM proteins. This
leads to polarization and protrusion of the cell membrane with
actin rich structures such as the broad lamellapodia or spike like
filopodia, in the direction of movement. These protrusions are
stabilized with a variety of adhesion proteins (integrins, syndecans,
cadherins, and cell adhesion molecules) attaching the protrusion to
the substratum. Adhesions serve as points of traction and of
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regulatory signaling to control adhesion dynamics and protrusion
of the cell membrane . The successful attachment to the
substratum unmasks intracellular regions of the adhesion mole-
cules to allow multiprotein complexes, termed the adhesome, to
cross-link the adhesion molecule to the cytoskeleton . There
are several cross-linking proteins such as talin, vinculin, and alpha-
actinin [14,15,16]. In the central and rear regions of the migrating
cell the actin filaments organize themselves into thick bundles
called stress fibers which terminate at both ends at the focal
adhesions connected to the extracellular matrix ECM .
Disassembly of the adhesions is accompanied by inward
movement of the cell edge and dispersal of the adhesion structures.
This well orchestrated process maintains the appropriate cell–cell
contacts between migratory muscle progenitor cells, controls the
architecture of individual muscles and influences the ultimate
shape, size and physiological function of the muscle organ system.
The bicoid–related homeobox gene Pitx2 is expressed in the
lateral plate mesoderm and in muscle anlagen in all stages of
myogenic progression [18,19]. Pitx2 contributes to the establish-
ment of network kernels that specify pre-myogenic progenitors for
extraocular and mastication muscles . Ablation of Pitx2 causes
lethality in the mouse at E10.5–E14.5 with axial malformations,
open body wall, heart defects, and arrest of organ development
[21,22,23,24]. Pitx2 is positioned downstream of both Wnt and
growth factor signaling pathways in skeletal myogenesis and
promotes muscle progenitor proliferation by direct regulation of
the expression of a number of cyclin-dependent kinases .
Alternatively, Pitx2 represses T-box genes by recruiting corepres-
sors and HDACs  and activates Hox genes during abdominal
wall development (Eng et al., unpublished data).
The exact source, timing, and migration patterns of the muscle
progenitors have recently been described using classic lineage
tracing techniques in embryos. In this study, we identified genes
that are regulated by Pitx2 in the Lbx1EGFPmyogenic cells by
gene expression arrays in flow-sorted cells. Several genes involved
in cell migration, adhesion and motility have been identified as
Pitx2 targets, including microtubule stabilization, actin cross-
linking, and tubulin related and intermediate filament associated
genes. Data from these studies suggest that myogenic cells have
large single protrusions with a highly directed migration by
continuous remodeling of their cytoskeleton and stabilization of
their adhesion to the ECM. Pitx2 can regulate myogenic cell
migration by influencing their polarity and shape by restricting the
microtubule growth and providing membrane and associated
proteins needed for forward protrusion, fusion and muscle
Deformed and Reduced Appendicular Muscle Anlagen in
Analysis of E10.5–E14.5 X-gal stained Pitx2 HET embryos
revealed many patches of localized blue staining in regions
between the skin and bone. These patches have the pattern of
muscles in the forelimbs suggesting that Pitx2 is normally
expressed in muscle anlagen (Fig 1A–H). Intense X-gal staining
was observed in scattered spots throughout each anlage with a
more diffuse low-level stain permeating the entire anlagen. A
fibrous muscle-like texture was observed in the larger stained
anlagen and regions between the anlagen were not stained. The
tight spatial restriction of Pitx2 expression to the muscle anlagen
suggests that Pitx2 plays a role in muscle development,
differentiation, and/or mature function.
The limb muscle anlagen of Pitx2LacZ/+(HET) were compared
with those of Pitx2LacZ/LacZ(MUT) at stages E10.5–E14.5 (Fig 1),
E14.5 being the latest stage possible, as MUT do not live past
E14.5 due to failure of the body wall to close. At this crude level of
analysis, it appeared that most, if not all, limb muscle anlagen had
formed. Thus, Pitx2 was therefore not essential for the gross
patterning of limb muscle anlagen. The right forelimb was the
least distorted of all limbs in MUT, being only slightly pronated.
Although all the appropriate muscle anlagen appeared to be
present in this limb (Fig 1D,H), careful inspection revealed some
differences in the shape of muscle anlagen. They appeared to be
either fatter or thinner, and less finely fibered than corresponding
anlagen in HET. The differences were not linked in an obvious
way to the slight overall distortion of the limb in this area.
Using flow sorting we isolated EGFP+cells from Pax3Cre|R-
OSAEGFP|Pitx2LacZ/+(HET) and Pax3Cre|ROSAEGFP|Pitx2LacZ/
LacZ(MUT) embryos at E12.5 forelimb tissue dissociated into
single cell suspensions. From forelimb tissue collected the mean (6
SEM) percentage of EGFP+cells was 1760.6% in HET (n=8)
and 1161% in MUT (n=7) tissue mean (Fig 1I). The mean
percentage of EGFP+cells present in MUT tissue was reduced by
26% compared to HET and this reduction was determined
significant using unpaired t-test (p=0.0001), (Fig S1). The reduced
number of cells at E12.5 may have been due to altered cell cycle in
the cells isolated from MUT forelimb tissue. These EGFP+cells
were stained with propidium iodide (PI) and the distribution of the
cells in the cell cycle showed that MUT cells had an increase in
G1- phase (7460.009%) of the cell cycle compared to those
isolated from HET (6960.007%) forelimb tissue this difference
was determined significant using unpaired t-test (p=0.0102)
(Fig 1J,K), suggesting that Pitx2 regulates exit from the cell cycle.
Pitx2 therefore appeared to influence the shape of limb muscle
anlagen and the hypothesis was advanced that Pitx2 played a role
in the proper differentiation or growth of appendicular muscle.
Pitx2 Target Genes in the Lbx1 Myogenic Cell Lineage
To better understand the Pitx2 dependent mechanisms involved
in muscle development, identification of Pitx2 target genes in
forelimb muscle was initiated. During mouse embryonic develop-
ment Pax3 is expressed in the dermomyotome, whereas Lbx1 is
coexpressed with Pax3 specifically in migratory hypaxial muscle
precursors that undergo long-range migration to the limb buds
and diaphragm [4,6,9]. We isolated the Lbx1 population from
forelimb tissue at E12.5 using Lbx1EGFPmouse line. The
Lbx1EGFPmouse line  provides a robust system for developing
genome-wide analyses of epistatic interactions in mammalian
embryos. At E12.5, muscle progenitors in the limb have been
segregated into distinct populations that mark the developing
muscle anlagen. Lbx1+marks and regulates MMP forelimb cells
 (Fig 2A). The Lbx1 fluorescent cells from E12.5 embryos are
also expressing Pitx2 . The ratio of green to white cells
accurately reflected the EGFP expression observed by immuno-
histochemistry (Fig 2B). Thus, fluorescence activated cell sorting
(FACS) was used to purify the EGFP+(G) and EGFP2(W) cells
from pools of 3–4 sets of forelimbs of MUT, HET and WT mice at
E12.5 (Fig 2C). Total RNA from three biological replicates of each
of the four conditions, HET green (hG), HET white (hW), MUT
green (mG) and MUT white (mW), was used to probe Affymetrix
Mouse 430 arrays (Fig 2D). Data from all twelve arrays were
normalized using GC robust multi-array averaging in GeneSpring
software (Fig 2E–J). The analysis focused on probe sets
corresponding to genes involved in cell adhesion and motility.
These annotated genes used in this analysis include: 18 adhesion,
9 microtubule, 9 cytoskeleton or cytoskeleton binding proteins
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and 2 signaling related functions. These 38 genes were collectively
monitored by 102 probe sets. Genes with the greatest fold change
in expression are involved in actin cytoskeleton, microtubule
dynamics, cellular adhesion and contraction, extracellular matrix
and signaling (Table 1).
Cytoskeletal Defects in Myogenic Cells in Pitx2 Mutants
The expression of numerous genes encoding for cytoskeletal
components or proteins regulating the dynamic assembly and
disassembly of cytoskeletal components were altered in Pitx2
MUT myogenic cells. To investigate if these alterations in gene
expression resulted in cytoskeletal defects immunohistochemistry
on E12.5 limbs and on primary cultured limb myogenic cells were
performed in series of double labeling experiments. Phalloidin was
used to visualize the actin filaments (F-actin) and beta-Gal to
visualize the expression of Pitx2LaZ. Special care was given to
positioning both HET and MUT forelimbs for cross sectioning of
the forelimbs. Actin filaments were equally distributed represented
with a round shape in the HET forelimb muscle tissue (Fig 3A)
while they were clustered together forming long fibers in the MUT
(Fig 3B). Cultured myogenic cells were characterized with a
smooth flat shape with several protrusions with filaments at the
border of the cell (Fig 3C, arrow) while MUT cells were smaller,
less developed with increased actin filaments along their body
(Fig 3D, arrow). The muscle specific actin binding protein
tropomyosin (Tpm) had very similar expression pattern (Fig 3E,
F). Forelimb muscle sections from HET tissue indicated that cells
were surrounded by orderly Tpm fibers (3E, arrows), while in
MUT cells were surrounded by thicker denser looking fibers with
Tpm forming a ring around them (3F, arrow). Cultured HET cells
had an elongated shape with thin smooth fibers throughout the
entire body and able to come together for further fusion (Fig 3G,
arrow), conversely, to the MUT cells which exhibited a more
round appearance with shorter thicker fibers (Fig 3H, arrow). The
muscle specific intermediate filament protein desmin was not
significantly mis-regulated in the gene expression arrays. However,
its distribution did change in the forelimb tissue of the MUT, with
desmin positive muscle cells not tightly connected and positioned
without a distinct anatomical formation (Fig 3I, J). Cultured HET
cells were more finely fibered and had an elongated shape (Fig 3K).
In contrast, the MUT cells had shorter and thicker filaments
Similar approach was used to investigate if genes that encode for
microtubules components, organization, or regulate dynamics
resulted in defects. Microtubule Associated protein Tau (Micro-
tubules) had a lighter more diffuse staining throughout the cell
body in HET (Fig 3M) compared to the strong dense levels in
MUT (Fig 3N). Myogenic HET isolated cultured cells had
elongated cell shape (Fig 3O, arrow), in contrast to the MUT
cells with a smaller rounder appearance and increased Tau levels
(Fig 3P, arrow). Stathmin 2 (stmn) immunostaining was light and
diffused in the cell body of HET muscle forelimb cells (Fig 3Q)
Figure 1. Regulation of Shape and Size of Limb Muscle Anlagen by Pitx2. (A–H) Whole mount X-gal staining of Pitx2LacZ/+and Pitx2LacZ/LacZ
knock-in mice from E10.5–E14.5. Pitx2 was expressed throughout muscle anlagen but not in epidermis, mesenchyme or bone anlagen. Most distal
limb muscle anlagen were mildly deformed. Muscle groups are outlined. (I) Percentage of EGFP+cells collected from Pax3Cre|ROSAEGFP|Pitx2LacZ/+
(HET) and Pax3Cre|ROSAEGFP|Pitx2LacZ/LacZ(MUT) embryos at E12.5 forelimb tissue dissociated into single cell suspension. The percentage of EGFP+
cells had a mean 6 standard error of the mean (SEM) of 1760.6% for HET (n=8) and 1161% for MUT (n=7). This 26% reduction in EGFP+cells in the
MUT forelimb was considered to be significant using unpaired t-test with a p-value=0.0001. (J) Example histograms of propidium iodide (PI) staining
of HET and MUT EGFP+cells isolated from forelimb tissue at E12.5. (K) Results of cell cycle analysis using PI staining showing distribution (mean 6
SEM) of the EGFP+cell population between HET (n=5) and MUT (n=4) during G1 (6960.007% HET, 7460.009% MUT); S (1860.005% HET,
1760.006% MUT); and G2 (1360.003% HET, 960.015%MUT) phases. The increase in MUT cells during G1 phase was determined to be significant
using unpaired t-test with a p-value =0.0102.
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Figure 2. Flow-Sorting EGFP+MMP Cells from Forelimbs. (A) EGFP indicating Lbx1 expression in Lbx1EGFP/+E12.5 mouse. (B)
Immunohistochemistry of cross-sectioned Lbx1EGFP/+|Pitx2LacZ/+E12.5 mouse forelimb. beta-Gal(Pitx2) and Lbx1(EGFP) are co-localized in the flexor
and extensor muscle groups. (C) FACS analysis of sorted Lbx1EGFP/+cells. The automated multiwell plating function on the MoFlo was used to test a
variety of substrate and media at systematically controlled plating densities. Cells were sorted at a rate of 10,000 cells/sec with a purity of 95–99+%,
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while it was highly expressed in the segregated MUT cell bodies in
a disorganized manner forming a web like structure (Fig 3R).
Similarly, stmn expression was elevated in the body of the MUT
stumpy looking cultured cells (Fig 3T). Tubulin expression was
highly detected in MUT tissue (Fig 3V) and isolated cells (Fig 3X).
Myogenic MUT cells maintained round separated and failed to
elongate and contact with each other to form multinucleated
myofibers (Fig 3D, H, L, P, T, X). Thus, Pitx2 might act as a
balance factor for (1) the formation of cytoskeleton by regulating
the molecular ratio of thin and intermediate filaments and (2) the
cell motion by regulating microtubules.
Defected Focal Adhesions in Myogenic Cells in Pitx2
The directional migration of cells is initiated by extracellular
cues. Initiation of migration occurs by polarizing and extending a
protrusion, containing the broad lamellapodia and spiky filopodia,
of the cell membrane towards the cue. Both of these structures are
driven by polymerization of actin filaments, which then stabilized
by adhering the actin cytoskeleton to the ECM. Signals from the
newly formed, more stable and mature adhesions influence
cytoskeletal organization, which in turn influences the formation
and disassembly of the adhesions. This feedback loop coordinates
spatial dynamics and mechanical stresses that lead to directional
cell movement. Cells express cell surface adhesion receptors
integrins that anchoring them to extracellular matrices and alter
their function by activating intracellular signaling pathways after
ligand binding. The integrin-actin linkage is mediated by several
proteins. Talin is an actin-binding protein that binds integrin tails
and transitions integrin to an active state.
The expression of numerous genes involved in adhesion and in
actin cytoskeleton has been altered in the Pitx2 mutants,
suggesting that the formation of nascent adhesions in this cell
population should be malformed. Forelimb cultured myogenic
cells from HET and MUT mice were subject to triple labeling
immunostaining for beta-Gal (Pitx2), talin to detect the focal
adhesions and Phalloidin to detect the F-actin stress fibers with
(Fig 4). Talin and actin were coexpressed along the cell body,
identifying the focal points (Fig 4 A, C, E). Talin and actin
coexpression was weakly detected in very few locations of the cells
with small cytoplasm, suggesting that the focal points were limited
in the MUT cells (Fig 4 B, D, F). As cells migrate through their
environment the cytoskeleton stresses and contracts forming a
leading and a trailing edge respectively. The nucleus moves
towards the trailing edge allowing space for the cell to extend its
cytoplasm (Fig 4A), while in the MUT cells the nucleus occupied
the most of the body (Fig 4B). Focal adhesion points stained for
both talin and Phalloidin were identified and counted in both
HET and MUT cells. HET cells characterized with distinct
trailing stress fibers and a smooth leading (Fig 4C) and trailing
edge (Fig 4E) and similar number of focal adhesion points (Fig 4G).
In MUT cells trailing and leading edges were not distinct with
reduced number of focal adhesion points by 36% in leading and
25% in trailing edge (Fig 4G). However, the size of focal adhesion
points was increased in MUT cells by 25% compared to HET cells
The observed phenotype of the myogenic cultured cells (Fig 3
and 4) was in accord with the phenotype observed in limb muscle
groups (Fig 1). The clumpy, disorganized and truncated cells
resulted to the formation of a dense and sort in length muscle. The
leading edge, the more dynamic end of the cell, changes rapidly in
order for the cell to sample its environment. Disruption of
microtubules using pharmacological agents results in loss of cell
polarity, increase in focal adhesion size, and formation of actin
stress fibers . At the leading edge of the cell, formation of many
nascent adhesions to anchor the cell to the substratum occurs.
Nascent adhesions are small (,1.0 micrometer) transient struc-
tures. These nascent adhesions rapidly assemble and disassemble
allowing for sampling of the environment prior to formation of
more stable or mature contacts. The maturation of focal adhesions
are accompanied by an increase in size (2–10 micrometer) and the
formation of actin stress fibers that terminate at the focal adhesion,
presumable to allow for contraction of the cell body to propel the
cell forward. Disruption of the microtubule dynamics leads to the
formation of larger focal adhesions, loss of cell polarity, and
increased formation of actin stress fibers . Thus, we suggest
that adhesion irregularities of myogenic cells delay their ability to
move fast and populate their muscle anlagen.
Impaired Motility of Myogenic Cells in Pitx2 Mutants
The hypocellularity and distortion of forelimb muscle groups
observed in Pitx2 MUT mice (Fig. 1) might be the result of impaired
migration of MMP cells to the distal forelimb. Live imaging of primary
cultures of E12.5 forelimb MMP cells from Lbx1EGFP/+|Pitx2+/+
(MUT) (Fig 5) and proliferating MP cells from Pax3Cre/+|RO-
Pax3Cre/+|ROSAEGFP|Pitx2LacZ/LacZ(MUT) (Fig S2) was per-
formed. Individual cells were visualized by EGFP expression and
changes in position were recorded every 5 min for a period of 2 hrs.
MMP WT cells were migrated in a random fashion with cells
frequently moving and several changes in direction (Fig 5A). MMP
HET cells migrated in a similar fashionwith cells frequently moving
but with fewer changes in direction (Fig 5B). MMP MUT cells
migrated much differently with cells spending more time paused
and with fewer changes in direction (Fig 5C). MUT cells traveled
half the distance of WT and almost 1/3 of the HET (Fig 5D).
Velocity was also decrease in MMP MUT (0.260.02 micrometer/
min) compared to HET (0.660.1 micrometer/min) and WT
(0.560.1 micrometer/min cells), (Fig 5E). Migratory behavior of
MMP cells was also altered. MUT cells spent more time paused
(66614 min) than moving (59614 min), while WT (92616 min
moving, 32617 min paused) and HET (10167 min moving,
2467 min paused) cells were moving more and spent only 1/3 or
1/4 of their time paused respectively (Fig 5F). All differences were
determined statistically significant using a Dunnett’s ANOVA using
EGFP|Pitx2+/+(WT), Pax3Cre/+|ROSAEGFP|Pitx2LacZ/+(HET) and
depending on the stringency of gating. Cell number (Y axis, log scale) vs. florescence intensity (X axis, FL1) plot. The ‘‘a’’ peak represented EGFP2cell
population, and the ‘‘b’’ peak represented the GFP+cell population. The GFP+population represents 5–7% of the total limb bud cellular pool. (D) RNA
samples were quantified and ran on an Agilent Bioanalyser 2100 to assess RNA quality prior to microarray analysis. (E) Comparison of expression of
total RNA from HET (y axis) vs. WT (y axis). Each dot in both axes represents relative RNA expression levels for an individual gene in WT vs. HET
respectively. If a dot is perfectly located in the diagonal line, then the relative gene expression level for the representing gene exhibits no difference
within HET and WT. (F) Comparison of expression of total RNA from MUT (y axis) vs. WT (x axis). Each dot in both axes represents relative RNA
expression levels for an individual gene in MUT vs. WT respectively. (G) Comparison of expression of total RNA from MUT (y axis) vs. HET (x axis). Each
dot in both axes represents relative RNA expression levels for an individual gene in MUT vs. HET respectively. Pitx2 expression levels were indicated
by arrow. Pitx2 was strongly down regulated in the Pitx2 mutants. Comparison of expression of total RNA of genes from Table 1 of HET (y axis) vs. WT
(x axis) (H), MUT (y axis) vs. WT (x axis) (I), MUT (y axis) vs. HET (x axis) (J).
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Table 1. Pitx2 Target Genes In Forelimb Migratory Muscle Progenitor Cell Lineage.
NameTranscriptGeneWT Het Mut
D Fold FunctionBibliography
Actin Related Genes
1,2Actin alpha1NM_009606Acta114496107 15446349248662301.8 monomer
NM_001008493Enah13368 15261 1946111 1.5 organization
2Actin c2 NM_009610 Actg296623 113614 129627 1.3monomer 
1,2Palladin NM_001166108Palld 294621 352623 3766113 1.3organization
NM_01104Actn311236256 1017688 650617
NM_001193570Csrp1 8196174 820652 526694
NM_001109992Ptpn11 11967 106616 87616
Tropomyosin 3 NM_001043351Tpm3 192643 196618155629
Microtubule Related Genes
NM_001123066Mapt4463 51613 25661445.8dynamics 
1Stathmin-like 2 NM_007029Stmn232614 2662 1316324.0 dynamics 
1Stathmin-like 3NM_009133Stmn3 7162 6262123661063.3 dynamics 
NM_001077595Shroom3 396654 438639 5016611.3dynamics 
2Tubulin beta4NM_009451 Tubb4 130656 141684 165629 1.3 monomer
1,2Tubulin beta3 NM_023279.2 Tubb3170661 113611216693 1.3 monomer 
1,2Tubulin beta 2bNM_023716 Tubb2b 22166312 2504619827666426 1.2monomer 
1,2Tubulin beta5NM_011655 Tubb5 2079691 1670666 1460645
Dynactin 4 NM_026302 Dctn4129613 12263194645
21.4 dynamics 
Adhesion Related Genes
1Myozenin 2NM_021503Myoz2 1896112116353196691.7adhesion
type 1 motif 9
NM_175314 Adamts9169692167 632 2396631.4adhesion
NM_010516Cyr61521622 54266 7326183 1.4adhesion
Modular Ca-Binding 1
NM_001146217Smoc1261627282640 347640 1.3adhesion
NM_001080814 Fat344165546668 5786721.3 adhesion
1,2Syndecan 4NM_011521Sdc4188615 20065 127629
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Table 1. Cont.
D Fold FunctionBibliography
Phosphate Phosphatase 1
NM_023277 Jam3 12586137 1197655 959638
1Periostin NM_001198765Postn 21106186 17226281625677
2Tetraspanin 33NM_146173 Tspan333676133375630 300623
Signaling Related Genes
regulatory, type II beta
NM_011158 Prkar2b11869 137 658 1856151.6 cAMP regulation 
dependent protein kinase 1
1indicates one of the three array sets was inconsistent with the other two, expression means and standard deviation was calculated using only the two consistent arrays.
2members of the adhesome.
Figure 3. Increased Actin Bundling and Presence of Tau and Stathmin in Pitx2 Mutant Myogenic Cells. Immunostaining for Phalloidin
(F-Actin) and beta-Gal(Pitx2) (A–D), tropomyosin and beta-Gal(Pitx2) (E–H) desmin (Intermediate Filament) and beta-Gal(Pitx2) (I–L) on Pitx2LacZ/+,
Mapt (Tau) and beta-Gal(Pitx2) (M–P), stathmin (stmn) and beta-Gal(Pitx2) (Q–T), and tubulin (tub) and beta-Gal(Pitx2) (U–X) on Pitx2LacZ/+. The F-
actin, tropomyosin and desmin labeled fibers in cells in the MUT forelimbs were not aligned and cluster together as in the HET. MUT myogenic cells
failed to develop protrusions, connect and align to each other. Mapt and stmn were highly expressed in forelimb tissue and myogenic primary
cultured cells. Mapt, stmn and tub expression levels were increased in both tissue and primary myogenic cells cultures. Arrows denote points of
interest between genotypes. White bar denotes 50 micrometer.
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Figure 4. Altered Focal Adhesion in Pitx2 Mutant Myogenic Cells. Muscle progenitor cells were isolated from E12.5 forelimb tissue of
Pitx2LacZ/+(A, C, E) and Pitx2LacZ/LacZ(B, D, F) mice. Cells were stained with alexa 488 phalloidin, (F-actin), talin (focal adhesions) and beta-Gal(Pitx2)
(A–F). (G) Myogenic cells had a mean 6 standard error of the mean (SEM) of 2664 (total=475) for HET and 1861 (total=330) for MUT of focal
adhesions per cell (n=18). This difference in mean focal adhesion number was determined statistically significant using a two-tailed unpaired t-test
(p=0.0464). The distribution of the number focal adhesions between the leading and trailing edges of the muscle progenitor cells was not affected;
the leading edges had an mean 6 SEM of 1462 (total =255) for HET and 961 (total =170) for MUT cells, while at the trailing edges had means 6
SEM of 1262 (total =220) for HET and 961 (total =160) for MUT cells. Neither of the differences of focal adhesion number at leading or trailing
edges between HET and MUT cells were determined statistically significant using two tailed unpaired t-test (p=0.05 and p=0.0848, respectively).
While differences between the leading and trailing edges within HET or MUT cells were also determined not statistically significant using two tailed
paired t-test (p=0.219 and p=0.355). (H) The size of focal adhesions had an mean size 6 SEM of 2.1460.27 micrometer in HET and 3.0960.3
micrometer in MUT cells. This difference in focal adhesion size was determined to be very statically significant using two-tailed unpaired t-test
(p=0.0013). The mean size 6 SEM of focal adhesions at the leading edge was 1.7060.24 micrometer for HET and 3.0360.3 micrometer for MUT,
while at the trailing edge the mean size 6 SEM was 2.5760.26 micrometer for HET and 3.1560.3 micrometer for MUT. The mean focal adhesion size
at the leading edge between HET and MUT cells were determined to be very statistically significantly different using unpaired two tailed t-test (p-
value =0.0016). When comparing leading and trailing focal adhesion size within HET cells there is a statistically significant difference in mean size
two-tailed paired t-test (p-value =0.001). Comparing mean focal adhesion size between leading and trailing edges within MUT cells showed no
statistically significant difference using two tailed paired t-test (p =0.1325). White bar denotes 50 micrometer.
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Figure 5. Motility Defects in Lbx1+Myogenic Cells in Pitx2 Mutants. Live cell tracking assay of migratory muscle progenitors (n=5) isolated
from forelimb tissue of E12.5 Lbx1EGFP/+|Pitx2+/+(WT), Lbx1EGFP/+|Pitx2LacZ/+(HET), or Lbx1EGFP/+|Pitx2LacZ/LacZ(MUT) embryos. Migration pathway of
migratory muscle progenitors over a 2 hour period for WT (A), HET (B), MUT (C). (D) Mean total distance travelled of WT (5364 micrometer), HET
(74610 micrometer), and MUT (2361 micrometer). (E) Mean velocity of movement of WT (0.560.1 micrometer/min), HET (0.660.1 micrometer/min)
and MUT (0.260.02 micrometer/min). (F) Mean time spent moving vs. paused for WT moving (92616.4 min) and paused (32616.8 min), HET moving
(10167.4 min) and paused (2467.4 min) and MUT moving (59614 min) and paused (66614 min). Using Dunnett’s ANOVA test setting WT as
control, the MUT MMPs were found to be significantly different in distance travelled, velocity, and time moving vs. paused. Following Dunnett’s
ANOVA an unpaired T-test between WT and MT determined significance values for distance traveled (p=0.0001), velocity (p=0.0001), time moving
(p=0.0089) and time paused (p=0.0082). (G) Quantitation of persistent migratory directionality. Relative ratios of direct distance from start point to
end point (D) divided by the total pathway distance traveled (T), ratios expressed as relative to WT (value set=1.0). The MMPs from HET had a ratio of
63% and MUT MMPs had a ratio of 127%. (H) The mean square displacement of total pathway distance traveled (T2) measured every 20 min. The x-
intercept HET (diamonds, black dotted line) and WT (light grey squares, solid light grey line) cells were as close to the origin as the intercept for MUT
(dark grey triangles, solid dark grey line), indicating that cells from all genotypes exhibit similar migration behaviors.
Motility of Myogenic Cells
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WT as the control group, followed by an unpaired T-test between
WT and MT determined significance values for distance traveled
(p=0.0001), velocity (p=0.0001), time moving (p=0.0089) and
time paused (p=0.0082). To quantify differences in migration
patterns, the ratios of the shortest direct distance from the starting
point of each recording to the end point (D), to the total track
distance of the cell (T) wascompared . The ratio D/Tto a value
of 1 using data collected from MMP WT cells was normalized.
MMP MUT cells showed an increased ratio of 127%, while HET
showed reduced ratio of 63%, compared to WT cells (Fig 5G). The
randomvs.directionalcell motility,wasmeasuredbya meansquare
displacement assay . The mean square displacement of total
pathway distance traveled (T2) measured every 20 min was
calculated and plotted against time. If movement is purely random,
the linear regression line would pass through the origin. The x-
intercept for HET cells was as close to the origin, as the intercept for
MUT cells exhibited migration behaviors, (Fig 5H).
Similar analysis was performed in proliferating MP cells
(Fig S2). WT and HET cells migrated in a random fashion
similar to MMP cells with the exception that MP cells tended to
persist in a single direction longer before changing.
Data from these studies suggest that myogenic cells take longer
time to populate the limb anlagen in Pitx2 mutants due to their
random movement and reduced velocity. As they proliferate they
continue to migrate in a slower pace. This delay to reach their final
destination does not follow the general growth limb program and
the forming muscle is distorted and disorganized in the
In this report we identified a cadre of Pitx2 target genes that
function as components of or act in the assembly, organization and
regulation of the cytoskeleton in forelimb myogenic cells (Table 1,
Fig 6). In order to migrate efficiently the cell must respond to both
intracellular and extracellular cues that reorganize the cytoskele-
ton. This constant reorganization influences the cell morphology
and ultimately cell fate. The leading edge of the migrating cell is
dominated by actin based structures lamellapodia and filopodia.
Actin based cell motility is highly dynamic, conserved across
eukaryotes and a fundamental process driving tissue development
. A network of proteins link the internal cytoskeleton of the cell
to the external environment through adhesion molecules, allowing
for the generation of force needed for cell movement .
The actin isoform actin alpha 1 (Acta1) is expressed in skeletal
muscle tissue  and its expression was inhibited by Pitx2
Figure 6. Pitx2-Mediated Myogenic Cell Gene Network During Filling Limb Muscle Anlagen. The network displays ten genes with the
greatest fold change from each of the three groups; actin (diamonds), microtubule (octagons) and adhesion (squares) related genes. Color intensity is
representative of reported fold change based on their gene expression analysis (Table 1), with darker color representing larger fold change.
Connections between the nodes are displayed as solid lines for direct interactions and dashed lines for possible interactions.
Motility of Myogenic Cells
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(Table 1, Fig 6). In the initial stages of elongation Acta1 expression
levels increase in multinucleated myotubes while it localizes with
the sarcomeric thin filaments . Overexpression of Acta1
reduces the ability of cell spreading and elicit the expression of a
subset of muscle differentiation genes in the absence of normal
muscle differentiation without withdrawal from the cell cycle .
The muscle specific alpha-actinin-3 (Actn3) acts as scaffolding
protein that cross-links actin stress fibers to focal adhesion proteins
providing anchor points, regulates the activity of a number of cell
surface receptors, and acts as a scaffolding protein to connect the
cytoskeleton to signaling pathways . The cysteine and glycine-
rich proteins (CRPs) are a subset of LIM domain protein family.
Csrp1 is ubiquitously expressed in striated and smooth muscle 
and its expression, was promoted by Pitx2 (Table 1). Csrp1 binds to
alpha-actinin, which binds and bundles actin filaments into stress
fibers and is responsible for maintaining proper tissue homeostasis
. The isoform Pitx2a has been previously shown that
implicated in regulating actin cytoskeleton dynamics indirectly
through Rho GTPases in HeLa cells . However, in our
microarrays in forelimb migratory muscle precursor cells no mis-
regulation of genes involved in Rho GTPase signaling was
A downstream target of Rho GTPase signaling pathway is the
cyclic-nucleotide-dependent kinase PKA which act to phosphor-
ylate Ena/VASP proteins and promote their dissociation from the
focal adhesion terminating actin fiber formation and negatively
regulating lamellapodia formation . The mammalian homolog
of Drosophila enabled (Enah) Mena is a member of the enabled/
vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (Ena/VASP) family of actin
regulatory proteins that act as critical regulators of actin assembly
and cell motility with increased levels in heart failure [39,40].
Ena/VASP proteins bind to the focal adhesion proteins zyxin and
vinculin, and to the actin nucleation protein profilin where it
prevents capping and branching of the growing actin filament by
the Arp2/3 complex. This complex promotes growth and
formation of actin stress fibers allowing for protrusion of the cell
membrane forming lamellapodia. The Ena/VASP proteins are
also substrates for the cyclic-nucleotide-dependent kinases PKA
and PKG, which act to phosphorylate Ena/VASP proteins and
promote their dissociation from the focal adhesion terminating
actin fiber formation and negatively regulating lamellapodia
formation . Pitx2 acted as an inhibitor of Enah in myogenic
cells (Table 1, Fig 6).
Another gene family that was affected in Pitx2 MUT myogenic
cells was the microtubulerelated gene family(Table 1). Microtubules
are an active constituent during cell migration. They are organized
with the growing end toward the leading edge that extends to the
base of the lamellipodium. The constant growth and shrinkage
(dynamic instability) of the microtubules is required for cell
migration. Pharmacological agents that either promote stabilization
or depolymerization microtubules result in reduction in migration
. Tau binds to the outside surface of the microtubule and
stabilizes the microtubule promoting growth . Rho GTPase
signaling influences microtubule dynamics through activation of
Cdc42 and Rac. The activation of these two proteins leads to the
phosphorylation of the microtubule destabilization protein stathmin
. The phosphorylation of stathmin leads to the inhibition of its
ability to form ternary complexes with tubulin dimers preventing
their incorporation into growing microtubules and promoting
shrinkage of the microtubules . Stathmins form ternary
complexes with tubulin dimers preventing their incorporation into
growing microtubules and promoting shrinkage of the microtubules
. During migration microtubules undergo dynamic instability to
explore the intracellular environment. Growing microtubules are
stabilized to focal adhesion complexes . During myogenic
differentiation the transition from myoblast to myotube is accom-
panied by extensive changes in morphology and reorganization of
the cytoskeleton . During myotubes formation the individual
myoblasts’ eliminate their microtubule organizing centers (MTOC)
and align themselves into stabilized linear arrays along the
The expression profile of adhesion related genes were altered in
the Pitx2 MUT forelimb myogenic cells (Table 1). Myozenin 2
(Myoz2) binds to alpha-actinin and c-filamin and colocalized with
alpha-actinin and gamma-filamin along the Z-Disc of striated
muscle where it organizes and spaces the actin thin filament .
Integrins are transmembrane receptors that mediate attachment
between the cell and the surrounding environment via cell-cell
contacts or to the extracellular matrix (ECM). They provide
anchoring points for the cytoskeleton and transduce environmen-
tal information to inside the cell thereby regulating cell shape,
motility, differentiation, and the cell cycle . Integrins consist of
two transmembrane subunits, the alpha controls selective binding
to substrate, and the beta controls signal transduction into the cell
. Integrins are clustered at focal adhesions along with other
phosphorylated adhesion proteins: paxillin, talin and focal
adhesion kinase (FAK) which initiate signaling cascades that lead
to activation of protein kinase C (PKC) that promote muscle cell
survival, spreading and migration [50,51].
Syndecans are type 1 transmembrane heparin sulfate proteo-
glycans (HSPGs) that contain a short cytoplasmic domain, a
transmembrane domain, and a long intracellular domain .
Sdc4 is colocalized to focal adhesions containing talin, vinculin,
alpha-actinin, paxillin, and FAK while its overexpression results in
excessive focal adhesion formation and reduced cell migration
. After focal adhesion have formed Sdc4 modulates focal
adhesion strength through recruitment of the GTPNRhoA protein,
which acts to strengthen and cap focal adhesions preventing
further actin stress fiber formation, and Rac1, which acts to
weaken focal adhesions allowing for increased stress fiber
formation and protrusion of lamellapodia [54,55].
The protein kinase cAMP regulatory subunit II beta (Prkar2b) is
a key enzyme for the regulation of the protein kinase A (PKA) was
also regulated by Pitx2. PKA is a positive and negative regulator of
cell migration and is spatially enriched at the leading edge of the
cell . At the leading edge PKA is required for the activation of
Rac and Cdc42 proteins promoting actin filament assembly;
conversely it inhibits the proteins Rho and PAK, as well as VASP
The 3-phosphoinositide dependent protein kinase 1 (Pdpk1) is
recognized as a master kinase of the cell required for the activation
of many signaling pathways. The Pdpk1 protein is phosphorylated
by 3-phosphoinositide kinase (PI3K) protein. Phosphatidylinositol
(PI) signaling is complex and crucial for migration, in general
signaling through PKA and the G-proteins (Rac, Rho and Cdc42)
at the leading edge leads to increased PI levels due to activation of
type 1 phosphatidylinositol kinases (PIPK1) resulting in an increase
in actin polymerization . At the trailing edge, the protein
Calpain acts to begin disassembly of focal adhesions using PIs as a
substrate to dissociate integrins from the cytoskeleton .
Pitx2 affects muscle specification in the jaw but appears to
disrupt higher-order muscle assembly in virtually all skeletal
muscles. In limb muscle, it does so without affecting muscle
specification or cellular muscle differentiation. Despite all of this
apparent normality, the muscle anlagen become oddly distorted
and granular 1–2 days after being colonized, suggesting that Pitx2
function becomes critical between colonization and myofibril
assembly. Our results indicate that anlagen volume and prolifer-
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ative indices differ in mutant anlagen, and suggest that there is a
defect in the mechanism that maintains correct progenitor pool
size as muscles enlarge and engage in higher-order assembly.
Many cytoskeletal proteins with established roles in cellular
motility and adhesion in other systems have significantly altered
expression levels in myogenic cells. Embryos use transcriptional
network states during pattern formation to specify where and
when muscle progenitor cells will form in the developing body
plan (Fig 6). These muscle progenitor cells proliferate, express
MRFs, and colonize particular regions of the body to form muscle
anlagen. The anlagen assemble on a pre-pattern that is also set up
by pattern formation processes. Once myoblasts arrive at their
anlage they begin to pull out of the cell cycle and engage in higher-
order assembly of muscle. Higher-order assembly is likely to
happen in a similar way at all anatomical positions, but still needs
to be understood at the molecular level to help understand how
myopathies form and can be cured.
Materials and Methods
ICR Pitx2LacZ/+mouse embryos (HET) , Lbx1EGFP/+,
Pax3Cre/+ and RosaEGFP/+ were used. Pitx2LacZ/+mice
were bred with Pitx2LacZ/+, Lbx1EGFP/+and Pax3Cre/+|RosaEGFP/+
to generate Lbx1EGFP/+|Pitx2LacZ/LacZ, Lbx1EGFP/+|Pitx2LacZ/+,
mice. Genomic DNA was extracted from tail and used for PCR
genotyping [6,22]. For cell flow sorting, embryos were rapidly
genotyped under a fluorescent microscope to identify Lbx1 HET
mice. To identify the Pitx2 genotypes, only Lbx1 HET embryos were
subjected to X-gal staining.
Mouse embryos at E12.5 were washed with PBS and incubated
with 1 mg/ml X-Gal in 2 mM MgCl2, 0.02% NP40, 5 mM
K3F4(CN)6, 5 mM K4F3(CN)6in PBS. For whole body staining
embryos were incubated at 37uC O/N and for quick genotyping
dissected heads were incubated for at least 0.5 h. Samples were
washed with PBS and clarified with glycerol for analysis and
Flow-Sorting EGFP+Forelimb Myogenic Cells
Synchronous Lbx1EGFP/+containing litters were removed at
E12.5 and rapidly genotyped under a fluorescent microscope to
identify Lbx1EGFP/+HET embryos and X-gal staining to identify
Pitx2 MUT and HET. Limb buds and ventral body wall
compartments between the caudal edge of the shoulder and
lumbar region were dissected. For enzymatic dissociation, 40 limb
buds were incubated in 1 ml of dissociation buffer (HBSS without
HEPES [Hyclone; Rockford, IL USA], 1 mg/ml Type I
Collagenase [Worthington Biochem; Lakewood, NJ USA]) for
3 min at 37uC. Large tissue was disrupted by 10 times repetitive
pipetting through a 1 ml tip with an additional pipetting followed
by 1 ml quench buffer (DMEM/F12 with 15 mM HEPES and
2.5 mM Glutamine [Hyclone; Rockford, IL USA], 25 micro-
gram/ml BSA Fraction V [Sigma; St. Louis, MO USA], 0.5 M
EDTA, 100 mM EGTA, 50 U/ml Pen/Strep [Cellgro; Manassas,
VA USA], 0.25 microgram/ml Fungizone [Invitrogen; Carlsbad,
CA USA]). Cells were filtered through 30 micrometer2Nitex
filter, centrifuged and flow sorted using MoFlo high-performance
cell sorter [Dako Colorado Inc.; Carpinteria, CA USA].
Propidium Iodide Staining and Cell Cycle Analysis
Flow sorted PAX3CRE|ROSAEGFPcells were collected in 5 ml
culture tubes containing PBS. These cells were centrifuged at
3006g for 5 min, supernatant was discarded and pellet resus-
pended in PBS. Cells were centrifuged and supernatant was
discarded and the pellet resuspended in 0.5 ml PBS +0.1% Triton-
X 100 in addition to 10 microliter of RNase A (10 microgram/ml;
[Invitrogen; Carlsbad, CA USA]) and 10 microliter Propidium
Iodide (1 mg/ml; [Sigma-Aldrich, St. Louis, MO USA]). Cells
were incubated for 30 min at room temp prior to cell cycle using
FC500 flow cytometer [Beckman Coulter; Brea, CA USA].
Extraction of Total RNA
Flow sorted EGFP+cells (green, G) and EGFP2cells (white, W)
were lysed with RLT buffer [Qiagen; Valencia, CA USA], (26106
cells/350 microliter). For extraction of total RNA RNAeasy Micro
Kits [Qiagen; Valencia, CA USA] were used according to
RNA Preparation and Microarray Analysis
Lbx1EGFPforelimb cells were enriched from three pools of WT
(Lbx1EGFP|Pitx2+/+), HET (Lbx1EGFP|Pitx2LacZ/+), and MUT
(Lbx1EGFP|Pitx2LacZ/LacZ) embryos by cell sorting using MoFlo
high-performance cell sorter [Dako Colorado Inc.; Carpinteria,
CA USA] on basis of EGFP signal. Total RNA was prepared from
forelimbs and probes prepared from these RNA were applied to
nine Mouse Genome 430 2.0 microarrays . The results from
all nine arrays were normalized by RMA. The mean expression
value obtained from three biological replicates was compared
between genotypes. The data discussed in this publication have
been deposited in NCBI’s Gene Expression Omnibus  and are
accessible through GEO Series accession number GSE31945
Myogenic Cell Cultures
Forelimbs from E12.5 Pitx2LacZHET and MUT mice were
dissected and dissociated into single cells in dissociation buffer
(HBSS without HEPES [Hyclone; Rockford, IL USA], 1 mg/ml
Type I Collagenase [Worthington Biochem; Lakewood, NJ USA])
for 3 min at 37oC. Cells were plated in growth media (DMEM/
F12 [Gibco; Carlsbad, CA USA], 2.5 mM Glutamine [Hyclone;
Rockford, IL USA], 15% horse serum, 50 U/ml Pen/Strep
[Cellgro; Manassas, VA USA], 0.25 microgram/ml Fungizone
[Invitrogen; Carlsbad, CA USA] and 2 ng/ml bFgf [Upstate/
Millipore; Billerica, MA USA] with 20,000 cells/well in 24-well
tissue culture plate [Costar; Corning, NY USA] containing type 1
collagen [Sigma; St. Louis, MO USA] coated coverslips for
immunocytochemistry or in 35 mm glass bottom culture dish
[MatTek; Ashland, MA USA] coated with type 1 collagen for cell
tracking assay. Cells were allowed to attach for 1 hr before
switching to serum free media containing phenol red free DMEM
[Cellgro; Manassas, VA USA], 50 U/ml Pen/Strep [Cellgro;
Manassas, VA USA], 0.25 microg/ml Fungizone [Invitrogen;
Carlsbad, CA USA], 2.5 mM L-glutamine, 25 mM HEPES,
1 mM Na-pyruvate [Cellgro; Manassas, VA USA].
Live Cell Tracking Assays
Glass bottom culture dishes containing attached myogenic cells
Lbx1EGFP|Pitx2LacZ/LacZ) and MP (Pax3Cre|RosaEGFP|Pitx2+/+,
cells were taken immediately after switching to serum free media for
imaging that persisted for approximately 40 hrs. Culture dishes were
Motility of Myogenic Cells
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placed inside live cell chamber incubator set at 37uC and 5% CO2.
Single cells were imaged under Zeiss Confocal Microscope LSM 510
Meta [Zeiss; Oberkochen Germany] using EGFP signal as a tracer.
Cryosectioning of fixed E12.5 embryo blocks were cut at
12 microm thickness or myogenic cell culture coverslips were
harvested and fixed in 4% Paraformaldehyde containing 0.1%
Triton X-100 for 5 min. Samples were washed 3 times with PBS
and blocked for 1 hr at room temperature with 3SB blocking
buffer (5% Fetal Calf Serum, 5% Goat Serum, 1% Calf Serum,
0.3% Boehringer Blocker, 0.1% Triton X-100, PBS). Primary
antibodies anti-mouse Talin (1:1000, [Sigma; St. Louis, MO
USA]), anti-mouse Tropomyosin (undiluted, [DSHB; Iowa City,
IA USA]), anti-mouse beta-gal (1:1000, [Cappel; Cochranville PA
USA]), anti-mouse Tau (1:100, [Santa Cruz; Santa Cruz, CA
USA]), anti-mouse alpha-tubulin (1:1000, [Sigma; St. Louis, MO
USA]), anti-rabbit Stmn2 (1:100, [Abcam; San Francisco, CA
USA]), anti-rat BrdU (1:50 [Accurate Chemical and Scientific
West Bury, NY USA] and anti-rabbit desmin (1:20, [Sigma; St.
Louis, MO USA]) added to samples, and samples were incubated
overnight at 4uC. Samples were washed 3 times with PBST (PBS
+0.1% Triton X-100) for 10 min. Fluorescent conjugated
secondary antibodies [1:500, Jackson Immuno.; West Grove, PA
USA] and Alexa Fluor 488 conjugated or Rhodamine conjugated
Phalloidin [1:100, Invitrogen; Carlsbad, CA USA] were added
and samples were incubated at room temperature for 2 hrs,
followed by 3 times wash with PBST for 10 min. Samples were
dehydrated and mounted with DPX mounting media. Single cells
were imaged under Zeiss Confocal Microscope LSM 510 Meta
[Zeiss; Oberkochen Germany] at 636magnification. While tissue
sections were imaged under Zeiss Imager.Z1 Microscope [Zeiss;
Oberkochen Germany] at 636magnification.
Visualization of Predicted Gene Network
Cytoscape 2.6.3 was utilized for composing visualizations of
microarray gene expression data . The top ten genes were
clustered based on fold change, from Table 1 in the families of
actin, microtubule, and adhesion. Connections between the nodes
are displayed as solid lines for direct interactions and dashed lines
for possible interactions. Direct or indirect, not yet determined,
was based on current literature search.
Decrease in Number of EGFP+cells in Pitx2
Mutant Forelimbs. Flow cytometry of dissociated forelimb tissue
isolated from E12.5 Pax3cre/+|ROSAEGFP|Pitx2LacZ/+(HET,
n=8) and Pax3cre/+|ROSAEGFP|Pitx2LacZ/LacZ(MUT, n=7)
embryos (A) Mean (6 SEM) number of cells (EGFP+and EGPF2
cells combined) from HET tissue was 5,237,1436482,445 cells and
MUT tissue was 6,994,0006731,302 cells. (B) Mean number of
EGFP+cells collected from HET tissue was 877,808667,469 cells
and MUT tissue was 729,630670,855 cells at a purity of .90%.
(C) Mean percent of EGFP+cells present in HET forelimb tissue
was 1760.6% and 1161% in MUT forelimb tissue. This reduced
mean percent EGFP+ cells was determined to be significant using
unpaired t-test, p=0.0001.
Motility Defects in Pax3+Myogenic Cells in
Pitx2 Mutants. Live cell tracking assay of muscle progenitors
(n=5) isolated from E12.5 forelimb tissue of Pax3cre/+|RO-
or Pax3cre/+|ROSAEGFP|Pitx2LacZ/LacZ(MUT) embryos. Migra-
tion pathways recorded for WT (A), HET (B) and MUT (C). (D)
Mean total distance travelled of WT (63614 micrometer), HET
(65614 micrometer) and MUT (34612 micrometer). (E) Mean
velocity of movement of WT (1.060.6 micrometer/min), HET
(0.660.2 micrometer/min) and MUT (0.460.1 micrometer). (F)
Mean time spent moving vs. paused for WT moving (76626 min)
and paused (49626 min), HET moving (76626 min) and paused
(49626 min) andMUT moving
(7868 min). Using Dunnett’s ANOVA test setting WT as control,
MUT MMPs were found to be significantly different in distance
travelled, velocity, and time moving vs. paused. Following
Dunnett’s ANOVA an unpaired T-test between WT and MT
determined significance values for distance traveled (p=0.008),
velocity (p=0.0479), time moving (p=0.044) and time paused
(p=0.044). (G) Quantitation of persistent migratory directionality.
Relative ratios of D/T showed that HET cells had a ratio of 98%
and MUT cells had a ratio of 167%. (H) The mean square
displacement of total pathway distance traveled (T2) measured
every 20 min. The x-intercept for WT (diamonds, black dotted
line) and HET (light grey squares, solid light grey line) cells were as
close to the origin than the x-intercept for MUT (dark grey
triangles, solid dark grey line) cells, indicating that cells from all
genotypes exhibit similar migration behaviors.
(4768 min) andpaused
We thank Anne-Marie Girard for microarray processing, Sam Bradford for
flow sorting, Diana Eng and Hsiao-Yen Ma for colony maintenance, the
College of Pharmacy, the Center for Genome Research and Bioinfor-
matics, and the Environmental and Health Sciences Center (P30ES000210
NIEHS-NIH) in OSU for infrastructural support.
Conceived and designed the experiments: CK MKG. Performed the
experiments: ALC HPS JX. Analyzed the data: ALC HPS JX MKG CK.
Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: ALC HPS MKG CK.
Wrote the paper: ALC MKG CK.
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