StarD7 is a phosphatidylcholine (PC)-specific lipid transfer protein essential for the maintenance of mitochondrial PC composition, morphogenesis, and respiration. Here, we studied the role of StarD7 in skeletal myoblast differentiation using mouse myoblast C2C12 cells and human primary myoblasts. Immunofluorescence and immuno-electron microscopy revealed that StarD7 was distributed in the cytosol, inner mitochondria space, and outer leaflet of the outer mitochondrial membrane in C2C12 cells. Unlike human kidney embryonic cell line HEK293 cells, the mitochondrial proteinase PARL was not involved in the processing and maturation of StarD7 in C2C12 cells. StarD7 was constantly expressed during myogenic differentiation of C2C12 cells. The siRNA-mediated knockdown of StarD7 in C2C12 cells and human primary myoblasts significantly impaired myogenic differentiation and reduced the expression of myomaker, myomerger and PGC-1α. The reduction in mitochondrial PC levels and oxygen consumption rates, decreased expression of myomaker, myomerger and PGC-1α, as well as impaired myogenic differentiation, were completely restored when the protein was reintroduced into StarD7-knockout C2C12 cells. These results suggest that StarD7 is important for skeletal myogenesis in mammals.
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