Conditions which yielded reproducible growth kinetics with extensive, relatively synchronous differentiation are described for chick muscle cultures. The effects of cell density and medium changes on the timing of cell fusion were examined. Low-density cultures which received a change of medium at 24 hr after plating show the highest rate of cell fusion, increasing from 15 to 80% fused cells in a 10 hr period. These optimal culture conditions were employed to reexamine two questions from the earlier literature on muscle culture: (a) can cells which normally would fuse at the end of one cell cycle be forced to go through another cell cycle before fusion; and (b) how soon after its final S period can a cell complete fusion? In answer to the first question, it was found that if the medium is changed, many cells which would otherwise fuse can be made to undergo another cell cycle before fusion. In the second case, radioautographs were made from cultures incubated with tritiated thymidine for various times at the beginning of the fusion period. These show labeled nuclei in myotubes as early as 3 hr after the beginning of the incubation period. This indicates that cells can fuse as early as the beginning of the G1 period, and suggests that there is not an obligatory exit from the cell cycle or a prolonged G1 period before cell fusion and differentiation during myogenesis.

This content is only available as a PDF.