Myogenesis, the process of muscle differentiation, requires an extensive remodeling of the cellular transcriptome and proteome. Whereas the transcriptional program underpinning myogenesis is well characterized, the required adaptation in protein synthesis is incompletely understood. Enhanced protein synthesis necessitates ribosome biogenesis at the nucleolus. Nucleolar size and activity are inextricably linked with altered gene expression. Here, we report changes in nucleolar morphology and function during myogenic differentiation. Immunofluorescence analysis revealed alterations in nucleolar morphology that were dependent on the cellular state – proliferative or quiescent myogenic progenitors (myoblasts or reserve cells) contained multiple small nucleoli with a characteristic spherical shape, whereas multinucleated myotubes typically contained one large, often irregularly shaped nucleolus. These morphological alterations are consistent with changes to nucleolar phase separation properties. Re-organization of the nucleolar structure was correlated with enhanced rRNA production and protein translation. Inhibition of mTOR signaling with rapamycin perturbed nucleolar re-organization. Conversely, hyperactivated mTOR enhanced alterations in nucleolar morphology. These findings support the idea that there is an mTOR dependent re-organization of nucleolar structure during myogenesis, enhancing our understanding of myogenesis and possibly facilitating new approaches to therapeutic interventions in muscle pathologies.

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