Researchers Discover Key Signaling Protein For Muscle Growth

Source: University of Louisville

Summary: Researchers have discovered the importance of a popular protein (MyD88) and its key role in the development and regeneration of muscles.

Muscle formation begins with the multiplication of specialized progenitor or stem cells, then they transform into preliminary muscle cells called myoblasts. These myoblasts fuse together and eventually form muscle fibers. The process of formation of muscles is known as myogenesis. Researchers from the University of Louisville used animal models and worked with both neonatal and adult cells to determine that a key signaling protein – MyD88 (Myeloid differentiation primary response 88) in the human body is required in sufficient quantity for the fusion of myoblasts which further helps in the growth and repair of skeletal muscles. The research findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Signaling Protein MyD88 helps in muscle growth

mT+ myofibers originating from empty vector (left) MyD88-transfected transplanted myoblasts (right). Credit: University of Louisville/Nature Communications

Prof. Ashok Kumar’s lab focuses on understanding the molecular and signaling mechanisms which regulate the acquisition and maintenance of skeletal muscles. They have been investigating the signaling mechanisms which regulate skeletal muscle atrophy, regeneration and muscle hypertrophy. And also studied the signaling mechanisms that control self-renewal and transformation of satellite cells in myogenic lineage. They believe that MyD88 in future may be used to improve the effectiveness of therapies using donor cells for treating degenerative muscle disorders such as muscular dystrophies.

Post-doctoral fellow, Sajedah M. Hindi said, “Since MyD88 promotes only the fusion of myoblasts without affecting their proliferation or differentiation, enhancing the levels of MyD88 levels could be a means to enhance engraftment of exogenous myoblasts in cellular therapies.”

Prof. Ashok Kumar said, “We are investigating whether augmenting the levels of MyD88 inhibits growth of rhabdomyosarcoma in animal models”, “Finally, we are investigating whether the loss of MyD88 is responsible for the diminished muscle regeneration capacity in the elderly.”

More Information: Sajedah M. Hindi et al, “MyD88 promotes myoblast fusion in a cell-autonomous manner”, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01866-w

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