Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have the potential to differentiate into various types of cells including skeletal muscle cells. The approach of converting ESCs/iPSCs into skeletal muscle cells offers hope for patients afflicted with the skeletal muscle diseases such as the Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Patient-derived iPSCs are an especially ideal cell source to obtain an unlimited number of myogenic cells that escape immune rejection after engraftment. Currently, there are several approaches to induce differentiation of ESCs and iPSCs to skeletal muscle. A key to the generation of skeletal muscle cells from ESCs/iPSCs is the mimicking of embryonic mesodermal induction followed by myogenic induction. Thus, current approaches of skeletal muscle cell induction of ESCs/iPSCs utilize techniques including overexpression of myogenic transcription factors such as MyoD or Pax3, using small molecules to induce mesodermal cells followed by myogenic progenitor cells, and utilizing epigenetic myogenic memory existing in muscle cell-derived iPSCs. This review summarizes the current methods used in myogenic differentiation and highlights areas of recent improvement.
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© 2017 Yusaku Kodaka et al.