Development and Evolutionary Morphogenesis - DEM

The laminin matrices of early skeletal muscle development

  • FCT
  • National Research Project
  • 2012 to 2015

Skeletal muscle development is a highly regulated process, which through tight coordination of cell proliferation, differentiation and morphogenesis, originates not only all the skeletal muscles in the body but assures that they are correctly oriented, connected to bones and nerves, producing a physiologically functional tissue enabling us to move.

Skeletal muscle development is highly influenced by the microenvironment. Some growth factors activate the transcription of myogenic regulatory factors, master genes that activate the myogenic programme, while others inhibit the activity of these genes. However, although the extracellular matrix (ECM) is also a prominent component of the microenvironment surrounding myogenic cells, much less attention has been paid to its role in modulating myogenic differentiation and morphogenesis. In this project, we focus on a particular component of the ECM microenvironment, the laminin matrices, which contact both myogenic precursors and differentiated muscle cells, at practically all stages of their development, using the mouse embryo as a model. By increasing our understanding of cell-laminin communication during the development of skeletal muscle, we may also contribute valuable information applicable to research on muscular dystrophies, crippling diseases caused by faulty connections between the muscle fibre cytoskeleton and the laminin in the myofibre basement membrane

Funding Institution:

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, FCT-funded project PTDC/SAU-BID/120130/2010


The project involves the work of 7 Researchers. Six of them are either integrated members (S. Thorsteinsdóttir, G. Rodrigues, M. Deries), Ph.D. students (A. Nunes, A.B. Gonçalves) or grant holder (G. Pinheiro) of the RG Development & Evolutionary Morphogenesis, while one (P. Ybot-Gonzalez) is a close collaborator from Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla (IBiS), Spain