Enzyme important for muscle cell maturation identified
Building muscle is important for everyone – not just image-conscious gym-goers. A small pool of myoblasts – muscle cell precursors – supply a stream of new muscle cells whenever growth or repair is needed. A new study examining these cells has discovered that an enzyme called ERK keeps this supply in check, and that inhibiting it prompts rapid growth of muscle fibres in cultures in the lab. When ERK is blocked, a second enzyme, CaMKII springs into action, triggering the muscle starter cells to mature and fuse together (right panel of timelapse video), forming recognisable muscle structure. Mice lacking CaMKII recovered from muscle injury more slowly, showing its role in natural healing. Being able to boost muscle regeneration could help recovery from injury, and could also prove useful for lab-grown meat, which might reduce livestock farming and help build a more sustainable and healthy world for us all.
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