Organ growth requires a careful balance between stem cell self-renewal and lineage commitment to ensure proper tissue expansion. The cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate this balance are unresolved in most organs, including skeletal muscle. Here we identify a long-lived stem cell pool that mediates growth of the zebrafish myotome. This population exhibits extensive clonal drift, shifting from random deployment of stem cells during development to reliance on a small number of dominant clones to fuel the vast majority of muscle growth. This clonal drift requires Meox1, a homeobox protein that directly inhibits the cell-cycle checkpoint gene ccnb1. Meox1 initiates G2 cell-cycle arrest within muscle stem cells, and disrupting this G2 arrest causes premature lineage commitment and the resulting defects in muscle growth. These findings reveal that distinct regulatory mechanisms orchestrate stem cell dynamics during organ growth, beyond the G0/G1 cell-cycle inhibition traditionally associated with maintaining tissue-resident stem cells.
- Cell Line
- Cell Lineage/physiology
- Cyclin B1/genetics
- G2 Phase Cell Cycle Checkpoints/physiology
- Homeodomain Proteins/genetics
- Transcription Factors
- Zebrafish Proteins/genetics