Post-mitotic role of nucleostemin as a promoter of skeletal muscle cell differentiation

Hiroyuki Hirai, Liudmila Romanova, Steven Kellner, Mayank Verma, Samuel Rayner, Atsushi Asakura, Nobuaki Kikyo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Nucleostemin (NS) is a nucleolar protein abundantly expressed in a variety of proliferating cells and undifferentiated cells. Its known functions include cell cycle regulation and the control of pre-rRNA processing. It also has been proposed that NS has an additional role in undifferentiated cells due to its downregulation during stem cell differentiation and its upregulation during tissue regeneration. Here, however, we demonstrate that skeletal muscle cell differentiation has a unique expression profile of NS in that it is continuously expressed during differentiation. NS was expressed at similar levels in non-proliferating muscle stem cells (satellite cells), rapidly proliferating precursor cells (myoblasts) and post-mitotic terminally differentiated cells (myotubes and myofibers). The sustained expression of NS during terminal differentiation is necessary to support increased protein synthesis during this process. Downregulation of NS inhibited differentiation of myoblasts to myotubes, accompanied by striking downregulation of key myogenic transcription factors, such as myogenin and MyoD. In contrast, upregulation of NS inhibited proliferation and promoted muscle differentiation in a p53-dependent manner. Our findings provide evidence that NS has an unexpected role in post-mitotic terminal differentiation. Importantly, these findings also indicate that, contrary to suggestions in the literature, the expression of NS cannot always be used as a reliable indicator for undifferentiated cells or proliferating cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-304
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Toshio Kitamura for providing the pMXs vector and Plat-E cells and Nobuko Katoku-Kikyo for technical assistance. This work was supported by grants from the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Korea Institute of Science and Technology and the Nash Foundation to A.A. and the NIH Grant R01 GM068027 to N.K.


  • Myogenesis
  • Nucleostemin
  • Protein synthesis
  • p53


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