The relation between the mitotic cycle and myoblast fusion has been studied in chick skeletal muscle in vitro. The duration of the cell cycle phases was the same in both early and late cultures. By tracing a cohort of pulse-labeled cells, it was found that myoblast fusion does not occur in S, G2, or M. Cell surface alterations required for fusion are dependent upon the position of the cell in the division cycle. In early cultures, fusion takes place only after a minimum delay of 5 hr from the time the cell has entered G1. The mitosis preceding fusion may condition the cell for the abrupt shift in synthetic activity that occurs in the subsequent G1. In older cultures fusion of labeled cells is diminished. Two factors account for the cessation of fusion in older cultures. First, the number of myogenic stem cells declines, but these cells do not disappear as the cultures mature. Their persistence was demonstrated by labeling dividing mononucleated cells in older cultures and challenging them with nascent myotubes. Some of these labeled cells were incorporated into the forming myotubes. Second, a block to fusion develops during myotube maturation. Well developed myotubes challenged with labeled competent myogenic cells failed to incorporate the labeled nuclei.

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