The myotendinous junction (MTJ) is a specialized domain of the multinucleated myofibre that is faced with the challenge of maintaining robust cell–matrix contact with the tendon under high mechanical stress and strain. Here, we profiled 24,124 nuclei in semitendinosus muscle–tendon samples from three healthy males by using single-nucleus RNA sequencing (snRNA-seq), alongside spatial transcriptomics, to gain insight into the genes characterizing this specialization in humans. We identified a cluster of MTJ myonuclei represented by 47 enriched transcripts, of which the presence of ABI3BP, ABLIM1, ADAMTSL1, BICD1, CPM, FHOD3, FRAS1 and FREM2 was confirmed at the MTJ at the protein level in immunofluorescence assays. Four distinct subclusters of MTJ myonuclei were apparent, comprising two COL22A1-expressing subclusters and two subclusters lacking COL22A1 expression but with differing fibre type profiles characterized by expression of either MYH7 or MYH1 and/or MYH2. Our findings reveal distinct myonuclei profiles of the human MTJ, which represents a weak link in the musculoskeletal system that is selectively affected in pathological conditions ranging from muscle strains to muscular dystrophies.

You do not currently have access to this content.