Orbiting around our muscle fibres, satellite cells are the speedy first responders to muscle injury. Similar to stem cells, they can transform into new tissue, plugging holes in torn muscle and helping to knit together wounds. Highlighted with a green stain, these microscopic ribbons of tissue are part of the flight muscles found in fruit fly’s wings. Each hair-like strand is a single muscle cell, containing several blob-like nuclei (red). Satellite cells have begun to repair a tear in the injured muscle on the right (middle gap), with the aim of restoring it to health, like the muscle on the left. Fruit flies share many of our genes and provide a valuable model to study many human conditions. Now that we know its satellite cells behave similarly to human ones, the fly may provide clues to repairing muscles damaged by injury, disease and ageing.
Written by John Ankers
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