Honors & Awards

  • Stanford Translational Research and Applied Medicine Fellow, Stanford Translational Research and Applied Medicine
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (5/1/2017)

Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Science, University of Ottawa (2010)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Ottawa (2016)

Stanford Advisors

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Glucose Metabolism Drives Histone Acetylation Landscape Transitions that Dictate Muscle Stem Cell Function. Cell reports Yucel, N., Wang, Y. X., Mai, T., Porpiglia, E., Lund, P. J., Markov, G., Garcia, B. A., Bendall, S. C., Angelo, M., Blau, H. M. 2019; 27 (13): 3939


    The impact of glucose metabolism on muscle regeneration remains unresolved. We identify glucose metabolism as a crucial driver of histone acetylation and myogenic cell fate. We use single-cell mass cytometry (CyTOF) and flow cytometry to characterize the histone acetylation and metabolic states of quiescent, activated, and differentiating muscle stem cells (MuSCs). We find glucose is dispensable for mitochondrial respiration in proliferating MuSCs, so that glucose becomes available for maintaining high histone acetylation via acetyl-CoA. Conversely, quiescent and differentiating MuSCs increase glucose utilization for respiration and have consequently reduced acetylation. Pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) activity serves as a rheostat for histone acetylation and must be controlled for muscle regeneration. Increased PDH activity in proliferation increases histone acetylation and chromatin accessibility at genes that must be silenced for differentiation to proceed, and thus promotes self-renewal. These results highlight metabolism as a determinant of MuSC histone acetylation, fate, and function during muscle regeneration.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.05.092

    View details for PubMedID 31242425

  • EGFR-Aurka Signaling Rescues Polarity and Regeneration Defects in Dystrophin-Deficient Muscle Stem Cells by Increasing Asymmetric Divisions CELL STEM CELL Wang, Y., Feige, P., Brun, C. E., Hekmatnejad, B., Dumont, N. A., Renaud, J., Faulkes, S., Guindon, D. E., Rudnicki, M. A. 2019; 24 (3): 419-+


    Loss of dystrophin expression in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) causes progressive degeneration of skeletal muscle, which is exacerbated by reduced self-renewing asymmetric divisions of muscle satellite cells. This, in turn, affects the production of myogenic precursors and impairs regeneration and suggests that increasing such divisions may be beneficial. Here, through a small-molecule screen, we identified epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and Aurora kinase A (Aurka) as regulators of asymmetric satellite cell divisions. Inhibiting EGFR causes a substantial shift from asymmetric to symmetric division modes, whereas EGF treatment increases asymmetric divisions. EGFR activation acts through Aurka to orient mitotic centrosomes, and inhibiting Aurka blocks EGF stimulation-induced asymmetric division. In vivo EGF treatment markedly activates asymmetric divisions of dystrophin-deficient satellite cells in mdx mice, increasing progenitor numbers, enhancing regeneration, and restoring muscle strength. Therefore, activating an EGFR-dependent polarity pathway promotes functional rescue of dystrophin-deficient satellite cells and enhances muscle force generation.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2019.01.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000460672700014

    View details for PubMedID 30713094

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6408300

  • Macrophages rescue injured engineered muscle NATURE BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING Wang, Y., Blau, H. M. 2018; 2 (12): 890–91
  • Macrophages rescue injured engineered muscle. Nature biomedical engineering Wang, Y. X., Blau, H. M. 2018; 2 (12): 890–91

    View details for PubMedID 31015725

  • Prostaglandin E2 is essential for efficacious skeletal muscle stem-cell function, augmenting regeneration and strength. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Ho, A. T., Palla, A. R., Blake, M. R., Yucel, N. D., Wang, Y. X., Magnusson, K. E., Holbrook, C. A., Kraft, P. E., Delp, S. L., Blau, H. M. 2017; 114 (26): 6675–84


    Skeletal muscles harbor quiescent muscle-specific stem cells (MuSCs) capable of tissue regeneration throughout life. Muscle injury precipitates a complex inflammatory response in which a multiplicity of cell types, cytokines, and growth factors participate. Here we show that Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is an inflammatory cytokine that directly targets MuSCs via the EP4 receptor, leading to MuSC expansion. An acute treatment with PGE2 suffices to robustly augment muscle regeneration by either endogenous or transplanted MuSCs. Loss of PGE2 signaling by specific genetic ablation of the EP4 receptor in MuSCs impairs regeneration, leading to decreased muscle force. Inhibition of PGE2 production through nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) administration just after injury similarly hinders regeneration and compromises muscle strength. Mechanistically, the PGE2 EP4 interaction causes MuSC expansion by triggering a cAMP/phosphoCREB pathway that activates the proliferation-inducing transcription factor, Nurr1 Our findings reveal that loss of PGE2 signaling to MuSCs during recovery from injury impedes muscle repair and strength. Through such gain- or loss-of-function experiments, we found that PGE2 signaling acts as a rheostat for muscle stem-cell function. Decreased PGE2 signaling due to NSAIDs or increased PGE2 due to exogenous delivery dictates MuSC function, which determines the outcome of regeneration. The markedly enhanced and accelerated repair of damaged muscles following intramuscular delivery of PGE2 suggests a previously unrecognized indication for this therapeutic agent.

    View details for PubMedID 28607093

  • Primary Mouse Myoblast Purification using Magnetic Cell Separation. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) Sincennes, M. C., Wang, Y. X., Rudnicki, M. A. 2017; 1556: 41-50


    Primary myoblasts can be isolated from mouse muscle cell extracts and cultured in vitro. Muscle cells are usually dissociated manually by mincing with razor blades or scissors in a collagenase/dispase solution. Primary myoblasts are then gradually enriched by pre-plating on collagen-coated plates, based on the observation that mouse fibroblasts attach quickly to collagen-coated plates, and are less adherent. Here, we describe an automated muscle dissociation protocol. We also propose an alternative to pre-plating using magnetic bead separation of primary myoblasts, which improve myoblast purity by minimizing fibroblast contamination.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-6771-1_3

    View details for PubMedID 28247344

  • Dystrophin expression in muscle stem cells regulates their polarity and asymmetric division NATURE MEDICINE Dumont, N. A., Wang, Y. X., von Maltzahn, J., Pasut, A., Bentzinger, C. F., Brun, C. E., Rudnicki, M. A. 2015; 21 (12): 1455-?


    Dystrophin is expressed in differentiated myofibers, in which it is required for sarcolemmal integrity, and loss-of-function mutations in the gene that encodes it result in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a disease characterized by progressive and severe skeletal muscle degeneration. Here we found that dystrophin is also highly expressed in activated muscle stem cells (also known as satellite cells), in which it associates with the serine-threonine kinase Mark2 (also known as Par1b), an important regulator of cell polarity. In the absence of dystrophin, expression of Mark2 protein is downregulated, resulting in the inability to localize the cell polarity regulator Pard3 to the opposite side of the cell. Consequently, the number of asymmetric divisions is strikingly reduced in dystrophin-deficient satellite cells, which also display a loss of polarity, abnormal division patterns (including centrosome amplification), impaired mitotic spindle orientation and prolonged cell divisions. Altogether, these intrinsic defects strongly reduce the generation of myogenic progenitors that are needed for proper muscle regeneration. Therefore, we conclude that dystrophin has an essential role in the regulation of satellite cell polarity and asymmetric division. Our findings indicate that muscle wasting in DMD not only is caused by myofiber fragility, but also is exacerbated by impaired regeneration owing to intrinsic satellite cell dysfunction.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nm.3990

    View details for Web of Science ID 000366008700016

    View details for PubMedID 26569381

  • Intrinsic and extrinsic mechanisms regulating satellite cell function DEVELOPMENT Dumon, N. A., Wang, Y. X., Rudnicki, M. A. 2015; 142 (9): 1572-1581


    Muscle stem cells, termed satellite cells, are crucial for skeletal muscle growth and regeneration. In healthy adult muscle, satellite cells are quiescent but poised for activation. During muscle regeneration, activated satellite cells transiently re-enter the cell cycle to proliferate and subsequently exit the cell cycle to differentiate or self-renew. Recent studies have demonstrated that satellite cells are heterogeneous and that subpopulations of satellite stem cells are able to perform asymmetric divisions to generate myogenic progenitors or symmetric divisions to expand the satellite cell pool. Thus, a complex balance between extrinsic cues and intrinsic regulatory mechanisms is needed to tightly control satellite cell cycle progression and cell fate determination. Defects in satellite cell regulation or in their niche, as observed in degenerative conditions such as aging, can impair muscle regeneration. Here, we review recent discoveries of the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that regulate satellite cell behaviour in regenerating and degenerating muscles.

    View details for DOI 10.1242/dev.114223

    View details for Web of Science ID 000353591300003

    View details for PubMedID 25922523

  • Muscle stem cells at a glance JOURNAL OF CELL SCIENCE Wang, Y. X., Dumont, N. A., Rudnicki, M. A. 2014; 127 (21): 4543-4548


    Muscle stem cells facilitate the long-term regenerative capacity of skeletal muscle. This self-renewing population of satellite cells has only recently been defined through genetic and transplantation experiments. Although muscle stem cells remain in a dormant quiescent state in uninjured muscle, they are poised to activate and produce committed progeny. Unlike committed myogenic progenitor cells, the self-renewal capacity gives muscle stem cells the ability to engraft as satellite cells and capitulate long-term regeneration. Similar to other adult stem cells, understanding the molecular regulation of muscle stem cells has significant implications towards the development of pharmacological or cell-based therapies for muscle disorders. This Cell Science at a Glance article and accompanying poster will review satellite cell characteristics and therapeutic potential, and provide an overview of the muscle stem cell hallmarks: quiescence, self-renewal and commitment.

    View details for DOI 10.1242/jcs.151209

    View details for Web of Science ID 000344848700001

    View details for PubMedID 25300792

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4215708

  • Wnt7a stimulates myogenic stem cell motility and engraftment resulting in improved muscle strength JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Bentzinger, C. F., von Maltzahn, J., Dumont, N. A., Stark, D. A., Wang, Y. X., Nhan, K., Frenette, J., Cornelison, D. D., Rudnicki, M. A. 2014; 205 (1): 97-111


    Wnt7a/Fzd7 signaling stimulates skeletal muscle growth and repair by inducing the symmetric expansion of satellite stem cells through the planar cell polarity pathway and by activating the Akt/mTOR growth pathway in muscle fibers. Here we describe a third level of activity where Wnt7a/Fzd7 increases the polarity and directional migration of mouse satellite cells and human myogenic progenitors through activation of Dvl2 and the small GTPase Rac1. Importantly, these effects can be exploited to potentiate the outcome of myogenic cell transplantation into dystrophic muscles. We observed that a short Wnt7a treatment markedly stimulated tissue dispersal and engraftment, leading to significantly improved muscle function. Moreover, myofibers at distal sites that fused with Wnt7a-treated cells were hypertrophic, suggesting that the transplanted cells deliver activated Wnt7a/Fzd7 signaling complexes to recipient myofibers. Taken together, we describe a viable and effective ex vivo cell modulation process that profoundly enhances the efficacy of stem cell therapy for skeletal muscle.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.201310035

    View details for Web of Science ID 000334567500008

    View details for PubMedID 24711502

  • Cellular dynamics in the muscle satellite cell niche EMBO REPORTS Bentzinger, C. F., Wang, Y. X., Dumont, N. A., Rudnicki, M. A. 2013; 14 (12): 1062-1072


    Satellite cells, the quintessential skeletal muscle stem cells, reside in a specialized local environment whose anatomy changes dynamically during tissue regeneration. The plasticity of this niche is attributable to regulation by the stem cells themselves and to a multitude of functionally diverse cell types. In particular, immune cells, fibrogenic cells, vessel-associated cells and committed and differentiated cells of the myogenic lineage have emerged as important constituents of the satellite cell niche. Here, we discuss the cellular dynamics during muscle regeneration and how disease can lead to perturbation of these mechanisms. To define the role of cellular components in the muscle stem cell niche is imperative for the development of cell-based therapies, as well as to better understand the pathobiology of degenerative conditions of the skeletal musculature.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/embor.2013.182

    View details for Web of Science ID 000327784500013

    View details for PubMedID 24232182

  • Treating muscular dystrophy by stimulating intrinsic repair REGENERATIVE MEDICINE Wang, Y. X., Bentzinger, C. F., Rudnicki, M. A. 2013; 8 (3): 237-240

    View details for DOI 10.2217/RME.13.27

    View details for Web of Science ID 000318224000002

    View details for PubMedID 23627818

  • The emerging biology of muscle stem cells: Implications for cell-based therapies BIOESSAYS Bentzinger, C. F., Wang, Y. X., von Maltzahn, J., Rudnicki, M. A. 2013; 35 (3): 231-241


    Cell-based therapies for degenerative diseases of the musculature remain on the verge of feasibility. Myogenic cells are relatively abundant, accessible, and typically harbor significant proliferative potential ex vivo. However, their use for therapeutic intervention is limited due to several critical aspects of their complex biology. Recent insights based on mouse models have advanced our understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling the function of myogenic progenitors significantly. Moreover, the discovery of atypical myogenic cell types with the ability to cross the blood-muscle barrier has opened exciting new therapeutic avenues. In this paper, we outline the major problems that are currently associated with the manipulation of myogenic cells and discuss promising strategies to overcome these obstacles.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/bies.201200063

    View details for Web of Science ID 000314914400013

    View details for PubMedID 22886714

  • Fibronectin Regulates Wnt7a Signaling and Satellite Cell Expansion CELL STEM CELL Bentzinger, C. F., Wang, Y. X., von Maltzahn, J., Soleimani, V. D., Yin, H., Rudnicki, M. A., Rudnicki, A. 2013; 12 (1): 75-87


    The influence of the extracellular matrix (ECM) within the stem cell niche remains poorly understood. We found that Syndecan-4 (Sdc4) and Frizzled-7 (Fzd7) form a coreceptor complex in satellite cells and that binding of the ECM glycoprotein Fibronectin (FN) to Sdc4 stimulates the ability of Wnt7a to induce the symmetric expansion of satellite stem cells. Newly activated satellite cells dynamically remodel their niche via transient high-level expression of FN. Knockdown of FN in prospectively isolated satellite cells severely impaired their ability to repopulate the satellite cell niche. Conversely, in vivo overexpression of FN with Wnt7a dramatically stimulated the expansion of satellite stem cells in regenerating muscle. Therefore, activating satellite cells remodel their niche through autologous expression of FN that provides feedback to stimulate Wnt7a signaling through the Fzd7/Sdc4 coreceptor complex. Thus, FN and Wnt7a together regulate the homeostatic levels of satellite stem cells and satellite myogenic cells during regenerative myogenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2012.09.015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000313839500012

    View details for PubMedID 23290138

  • Molecular regulation of determination in asymmetrically dividing muscle stem cells CELL CYCLE Wang, Y. X., Bentzinger, C. F., Rudnicki, M. A. 2013; 12 (1): 3-4

    View details for DOI 10.4161/cc.23068

    View details for Web of Science ID 000313414700002

    View details for PubMedID 23255099

  • Carm1 Regulates Pax7 Transcriptional Activity through MLL1/2 Recruitment during Asymmetric Satellite Stem Cell Divisions CELL STEM CELL Kawabe, Y., Wang, Y. X., McKinnell, I. W., Bedford, M. T., Rudnicki, M. A. 2012; 11 (3): 333-345


    In skeletal muscle, asymmetrically dividing satellite stem cells give rise to committed satellite cells that transcribe the myogenic determination factor Myf5, a Pax7-target gene. We identified the arginine methyltransferase Carm1 as a Pax7 interacting protein and found that Carm1 specifically methylates multiple arginines in the N terminus of Pax7. Methylated Pax7 directly binds the C-terminal cleavage forms of the trithorax proteins MLL1/2 resulting in the recruitment of the ASH2L:MLL1/2:WDR5:RBBP5 histone H3K4 methyltransferase complex to regulatory enhancers and the proximal promoter of Myf5. Finally, Carm1 is required for the induction of de novo Myf5 transcription following asymmetric satellite stem cell divisions. We defined the C-terminal MLL region as a reader domain for the recognition of arginine methylated proteins such as Pax7. Thus, arginine methylation of Pax7 by Carm1 functions as a molecular switch controlling the epigenetic induction of Myf5 during satellite stem cell asymmetric division and entry into the myogenic program.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2012.07.001

    View details for Web of Science ID 000309641300008

    View details for PubMedID 22863532

  • Satellite cells, the engines of muscle repair. Nature reviews. Molecular cell biology Wang, Y. X., Rudnicki, M. A. 2012; 13 (2): 127-133


    Satellite cells are a heterogeneous population of stem and progenitor cells that are required for the growth, maintenance and regeneration of skeletal muscle. The transcription factors paired-box 3 (PAX3) and PAX7 have essential and overlapping roles in myogenesis. PAX3 acts to specify embryonic muscle precursors, whereas PAX7 enforces the satellite cell myogenic programme while maintaining the undifferentiated state. Recent experiments have suggested that PAX7 is dispensable in adult satellite cells. However, these findings are controversial, and the issue remains unresolved.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nrm3265

    View details for PubMedID 22186952

  • Building Muscle: Molecular Regulation of Myogenesis COLD SPRING HARBOR PERSPECTIVES IN BIOLOGY Bentzinger, C. F., Wang, Y. X., Rudnicki, M. A. 2012; 4 (2)


    The genesis of skeletal muscle during embryonic development and postnatal life serves as a paradigm for stem and progenitor cell maintenance, lineage specification, and terminal differentiation. An elaborate interplay of extrinsic and intrinsic regulatory mechanisms controls myogenesis at all stages of development. Many aspects of adult myogenesis resemble or reiterate embryonic morphogenetic episodes, and related signaling mechanisms control the genetic networks that determine cell fate during these processes. An integrative view of all aspects of myogenesis is imperative for a comprehensive understanding of muscle formation. This article provides a holistic overview of the different stages and modes of myogenesis with an emphasis on the underlying signals, molecular switches, and genetic networks.

    View details for DOI 10.1101/cshperspect.a008342

    View details for Web of Science ID 000300404600006

    View details for PubMedID 22300977