Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Muscle Trouble

The role of a protein called PLK1 in regeneration of muscle

10 September 2019

Muscle Trouble

When you’re pumping iron in the gym, a little pool of cells is working overtime to produce the material needed for your expanding physique. And when you injure yourself over-doing it, that same group, the muscle satellite cells, provide the necessary resupply of healthy cells. How these starter cells know when to burst into action isn’t well understood. One factor involved is a protein called PLK1, but it's proved hard to study. A new approach blocked its activity in mouse muscle cells. These mice developed normally but their muscles couldn’t heal when injured (pictured one week after injury, with new cells in red). Without PLK1, the resupply cells got stuck before duplicating and ultimately self-destructed. The cells divide more slowly in older people, so deciphering how they’re regulated might help improve elderly injury recovery and might have implications for patients who currently take PLK1 blockers to counter cancer.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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