Monday, December 12, 2011
New Muscle Repair Gene Discovered
Researchers from the University of Leeds School of Medicine and the Charite, Berlin, have discovered more about muscle stem cells using modern DNA sequencing techniques. The work investigated children who suffered from a progressive muscle disease, which caused their muscles and the diaphragm to be very weak. This causes them to have to use a wheelchair and continuous mechanical ventilation, as well as being tube fed due to problems with the esophagus. The condition is fairly devastating, and researchers investigated children with this disease by using DNA sequencing technology. The research being done and the sequenced DNA allows for more accurate genetic testing and diagnosis. They found a defect in the MEGF10 gene for families in Europe, Asia, and the U.K. This MEGF10 gene plays an important role in muscle stem cells. They are nicknamed 'satellite cells' because they attach to the outer surface of the muscle fibers where they remain dormant until a fiber is damaged. If a fiber gets damaged the cells start to divide and fuse with the muscle fibers. MEGF10 plays an important part in this fusion because it provides the sticky adhesive surface for the attachment.MEGF10 also has a role in maintaining the muscle during normal life. The sequencing of DNA as well as the discovery of this new muscle repair gene will help in finding new treatments for muscle diseases.