Bonfanti C, Rossi G, Tedesco FS, Giannotta M, Benedetti S, Tonlorenzi R, Antonini S, Marazzi G, Dejana E, Sassoon D, Cossu G, Messina G
Mesoangioblasts are vessel-associated progenitor cells that show therapeutic promise for the treatment of muscular dystrophy. Mesoangioblasts have the ability to undergo skeletal muscle differentiation and cross the blood vessel wall regardless of the developmental stage at which they are isolated. Here we show that PW1/Peg3 is expressed at high levels in mesoangioblasts obtained from mouse, dog and human tissues and its level of expression correlates with their myogenic competence. Silencing PW1/Peg3 markedly inhibits myogenic potential of mesoangioblasts in vitro through MyoD degradation. Moreover, lack of PW1/Peg3 abrogates mesoangioblast ability to cross the vessel wall and to engraft into damaged myofibres through the modulation of the junctional adhesion molecule-A. We conclude that PW1/Peg3 function is essential for conferring proper mesoangioblast competence and that the determination of PW1/Peg3 levels in human mesoangioblasts may serve as a biomarker to identify the best donor populations for therapeutic application in muscular dystrophies.