Myogenesis in Drosophila embryos requires fusion between Founder cells (FCs) and Fusion Competent myoblasts (FCMs) to form multinucleate myotubes. Myoblast fusion is well characterized in embryos, and many factors required for this process have been identified; however, a number of questions pertaining to the mechanisms of fusion remain and are challenging to answer in the embryo. We have developed a modified primary cell culture protocol to address these questions in vitro. Using this system, we determined the optimal time for examining fusion in culture and confirmed that known fusion proteins are expressed and localized as in embryos. Importantly, we disrupted the actin and microtubule networks with the drugs latrunculin B and nocodazole, respectively, confirming that actin is required for myoblast fusion and showing for the first time that microtubules are also required for this process in Drosophila. Finally, we show that myotubes in culture adopt and maintain specific muscle identities.
Received: January 28, 2011; Accepted: February 7, 2011