Ronald Allen

Professor Emeritus
Ronald Allen
Agricultural Research Center

4101 N. Campbell Ave.

A pioneer in the study of skeletal muscle stem cells (called satellite cells) in domestic animals and humans. Dr. Allen's research has led to an understanding of how the body signals satellite cells to multiply, form muscle fibers and self-renew to maintain the satellite cell population.


  • Ph.D. - Biochemistry - Iowa State University
  • B.S. - Animal Sciences - Texas A&M University

Dr. Allen is a veteran animal scientist who has taught and conducted research at Iowa State University, Michigan State University and since 1980, the University of Arizona. Dr. Allen's major field of study deals with animal growth and development.

Research Interests

The focal point of research in Dr. Allen's laboratory is the growth and repair of skeletal muscle in domestic animals and humans. The key player in both of these processes is the satellite cell. Satellite cells are muscle stem cells that are generally found in a quiescent, or dormant, state in close association with muscle fibers.  Although sparsely distributed in postnatal muscle, they play an important role in regulating muscle growth by dividing and fusing with existing muscle fibers. The result is a net increase in the number of muscle fiber nuclei and hence, an increase in the growth potential of the fiber. In injured muscle, satellite cells are stimulated to divide and form new fibers that replace damaged muscle fibers. Consequently, the rate and efficiency of muscle growth and repair are dependent on the activity of satellite cells, and therefore, satellite cell function is relevant to muscle growth in domestic animals, to human muscle disease and injury and to problems associated with aging.

Research goals in Dr. Allen's laboratory have been to unravel the mechanisms responsible for satellite cell activation from the quiescent state and to understand the events leading to cell division and cell migration leading to muscle fiber formation. This problem is being approached by integrating experiments at the cellular, tissue, and whole animal level.

Selected Publications

  • Yamada M, Tatsumi R, Yamanouchi K, Hosoyama T, Shiratsuchi S, Sato A, Mizunoya W, Ikeuchi Y, Furuse M, Allen RE. 2010. High concentrations of HGF inhibit skeletal muscle satellite cell proliferation in vitro by inducing expression of myostatin: a possible mechanism for reestablishing satellite cell quiescence in vivo. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 298:C465-76.
  • Rhoads RP, Johnson RM, Rathbone CR, Liu X, Temm-Grove C, Sheehan SM, Hoying JB, Allen RE. 2009.  Satellite cell-mediated angiogenesis in vitro coincides with a functional hypoxia-inducible factor pathway. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 296:C1321-8.
  • Yamada M, Sankoda Y, Tatsumi R, Mizunoya W, Ikeuchi Y, Sunagawa K, Allen RE. 2008. Matrix metalloproteinase-2 mediates stretch-induced activation of skeletal muscle satellite cells in a nitric oxide-dependent manner. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 40:2183-91.
  • Tatsumi, R., Liu, X., Pulido, A., Morales, M., Sakata, T., Dial, S., Hattori, A., Ikeuchi, Y., and Allen,R.E. 2006. Satellite cell activation in stretched skeletal muscle and the role of nitric oxide and hepatocyte growth factor. Am. J. Physiol. Cell Physiol. 290:C1487-94.
  • Wagner KR, Liu X, Chang X, Allen RE. Feb 2005. Muscle regeneration in the prolonged absence of myostatin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 102:2519-24.
  • Mendias CL, Tatsumi R, Allen RE. Oct 2004. Role of cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 in satellite cell proliferation, differentiation, and fusion. Muscle Nerve, 30:497.
  • Tatsumi R, Allen RE. Nov 2004. Active hepatocyte growth factor is present in skeletal muscle extracellular matrix. Muscle Nerve, 30:654-8.
  • Tatsumi R, Hattori A, Ikeuchi Y, Anderson JE, Allen RE. Aug 2002. Release of hepatocyte growth factor from mechanically stretched skeletal muscle satellite cells and role of pH and nitric oxide. Mol Biol Cell, 13:2909-18.
Courses Taught: