Studies of cell fate focus on specification, but little is known about maintenance of the differentiated state. In this study we find that the mouse tendon cell fate requires continuous maintenance in vivo and identify an essential role for TGFβ signaling in maintenance of the tendon cell fate. To examine the role of TGFβ signaling in tenocyte function the TGFβ type II receptor (Tgfbr2) was targeted in the Scleraxis-expressing cell lineage using the ScxCre deletor. Tendon development was not disrupted in mutant embryos, but shortly after birth tenocytes lost differentiation markers and reverted to a more stem/progenitor state. Viral reintroduction of Tgfbr2 to mutants prevented and even rescued tenocyte dedifferentiation suggesting a continuous and cell autonomous role for TGFβ signaling in cell fate maintenance. These results uncover the critical importance of molecular pathways that maintain the differentiated cell fate and a key role for TGFβ signaling in these processes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)