Skeletal Muscle Nuclei in Mice are not Post-mitotic

Agnieszka K. Borowik, Arik Davidyan, Frederick F. Peelor, Evelina Voloviceva, Stephen M. Doidge, Matthew P. Bubak, Christopher B. Mobley, John J. McCarthy, Esther E. Dupont-Versteegden, Benjamin F. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The skeletal muscle research field generally accepts that nuclei in skeletal muscle fibers (ie, myonuclei) are post-mitotic and unable to proliferate. Because our deuterium oxide (D2O) labeling studies showed DNA synthesis in skeletal muscle tissue, we hypothesized that resident myonuclei can replicate in vivo. To test this hypothesis, we used a mouse model that temporally labeled myonuclei with GFP followed by D2O labeling during normal cage activity, functional overload, and with satellite cell ablation. During normal cage activity, we observed deuterium enrichment into myonuclear DNA in 7 out of 7 plantaris (PLA), 6 out of 6 tibialis anterior (TA), 5 out of 7 gastrocnemius (GAST), and 7 out of 7 quadriceps (QUAD). The average fractional synthesis rates (FSR) of DNA in myonuclei were: 0.0202 ± 0.0093 in PLA, 0.0239 ± 0.0040 in TA, 0.0076 ± 0. 0058 in GAST, and 0.0138 ± 0.0039 in QUAD, while there was no replication in myonuclei from EDL. These FSR values were largely reproduced in the overload and satellite cell ablation conditions, although there were higher synthesis rates in the overloaded PLA muscle. We further provided evidence that myonuclear replication is through endoreplication, which results in polyploidy. These novel findings contradict the dogma that skeletal muscle nuclei are post-mitotic and open potential avenues to harness the intrinsic replicative ability of myonuclei for muscle maintenance and growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzqac059
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of American Physiological Society.


  • DNA synthesis
  • Growth
  • Muscle
  • Stable isotope
  • myonuclei

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Physiology
  • Cancer Research
  • Cell Biology


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