Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type



Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology

First Advisor

Bradley Olwin


Satellite cells are muscle stem cells and are located in an anatomically defined niche between the muscle fiber membrane and the basal lamina. Satellite cells regenerate skeletal muscle, making them an ideal candidate for treating muscle disorders. Cultured satellite cells that remain in contact with their myofiber niche can regenerate muscle after transplantation. However, when satellite cells are removed from their myofiber niche and cultured on tissue culture plastic, they lose their ability to contribute to muscle regeneration after transplantation, suggesting that their niche influences their regenerative capability. Traditional tissue culture plastic places satellite cells in a rigid, two-dimensional environment which poorly represents their myofiber niche. To better mimic the myofiber niche in vitro, we have cultured satellite cells in hydrogels which provide a three0dimensional matrix with muscle0like elasticity and the ability to incorporate integral niche components in a spatiotemporal manner. We screened satellite cell niche components and showed satellite cells are viable, able to expand, and maintain Pax7 expression during four days of culture inside hydrogels. Future transplantation experiments will determine the ability of satellite cells cultured in hydrogels to regenerate muscle.