[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An important unresolved question in skeletal muscle plasticity is whether satellite cells are necessary for muscle fiber hypertrophy. To address this issue, a novel mouse strain (Pax7-DTA) was created which enabled the conditional ablation of >90% of satellite cells in mature skeletal muscle following tamoxifen administration. To test the hypothesis that satellite cells are necessary for skeletal muscle hypertrophy, the plantaris muscle of adult Pax7-DTA mice was subjected to mechanical overload by surgical removal of the synergist muscle. Following two weeks of overload, satellite cell-depleted muscle showed the same increases in muscle mass (approximately twofold) and fiber cross-sectional area with hypertrophy as observed in the vehicle-treated group. The typical increase in myonuclei with hypertrophy was absent in satellite cell-depleted fibers, resulting in expansion of the myonuclear domain. Consistent with lack of nuclear addition to enlarged fibers, long-term BrdU labeling showed a significant reduction in the number of BrdU-positive myonuclei in satellite cell-depleted muscle compared with vehicle-treated muscle. Single fiber functional analyses showed no difference in specific force, Ca(2+) sensitivity, rate of cross-bridge cycling and cooperativity between hypertrophied fibers from vehicle and tamoxifen-treated groups. Although a small component of the hypertrophic response, both fiber hyperplasia and regeneration were significantly blunted following satellite cell depletion, indicating a distinct requirement for satellite cells during these processes. These results provide convincing evidence that skeletal muscle fibers are capable of mounting a robust hypertrophic response to mechanical overload that is not dependent on satellite cells.