Madl et al., published in Biomaterials

Biophysical matrix cues from the regenerating niche direct muscle stem cell fate in engineered microenvironments was published in Biomaterials in June 2021.The lead author was Chris Madl, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Helen M. Blau. Skeletal muscle stem cells (MuSCs) are essential for muscle repair, and are promising therapeutic targets for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. This work explores how MuSCs integrate cues from their microenvironment during regeneration that direct stem cell expansion, differentiation, and return to quiescence. The authors developed a photoresponsive hydrogel system that can be rapidly softened on demand, and showed that the cellular response to a stiff microenvironment is fixed within the first three days of culture. Their data highlight the importance of temporally controlled biophysical and biochemical cues in regulating MuSC fate, and demonstrate how they can be harnessed to improve regenerative medicine approaches to restore skeletal muscle tissue.