What controls the master controller of muscle development?

March 25, 2015

A protein called MyoD has long been known as the master controller of muscle formation, but the molecular pathways that control MyoD have remained somewhat of a mystery… until now. New research led by Dr. Jeff Dilworth shows how two proteins, called MSK1 and KAP1, ensure that muscle formation operates like a finely tuned car. In this analogy, KAP1 is like a gearbox that works with the MyoD motor, the epigenetic engine that drives muscle formation. However, KAP1 also keeps the vehicle in neutral to prevent muscle genes from being turned on when they are not needed. MSK1 acts like the clutch that engages the KAP1 gearbox and allows the MyoD engine to slip into gear, which causes muscle genes to start firing on all cylinders to form new muscle. Identifying this key molecular pathway could lead to the development of new therapies with fewer side effects to treat diseases such as muscular dystrophy. See Genes & Development for details.

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