Major advance in understanding muscle regeneration: Caspase 3 tackles Pax7 in a cellular game of Pac-Man

October 14, 2015

Stem cells control the growth and regeneration of skeletal muscle. In healthy muscle, stem cells can multiply or mature into new muscle fibres, but in diseases like Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, stem cells become stuck and muscles deteriorate.

Now, new research from Dr. Lynn Megeney and colleagues unravels for the first time how a protein called Caspase 3, infamous for orchestrating cell death, actually plays a key role in muscle regeneration. Much like a Pac-Man, it turns out that caspase 3 can chop through Pax7, the protein which tells stem cells to multiply rather than mature. In so doing, caspase 3 determines when muscle stem cells will mature into muscle fibre and tissue. This research could lead to new approaches to treat muscular dystrophy and other muscle diseases. See PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) for details.

Co-authors: Sarah A. Dick, Natasha C. Chang, Nicolas A. Dumont, Ryan A. V. Bell, Charis Putinski,Yoichi Kawabe, David W. Litchfield, Michael A. Rudnicki

Funders: Muscular Dystrophy Association USA, Canadian Institute of Health Research

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