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NIH scientists identify gene that could hold the key to muscle repair
Date:4/18/2011

cumstances, the scientists looked to a gene called Ezh2, known to keep the activity of other genes in check. When they genetically inactivated Ezh2 in satellite cells of laboratory mice, the mice failed to repair muscle damage caused by traumatic injury satellite cells could not proliferate.

Ezh2 expression is known to decline during aging, and the new research in mice suggests that therapies to activate Ezh2 and promote satellite cell proliferation might eventually play a role in treating degenerative muscle diseases.

"We will not be able to cure the muscular dystrophies with this approach because the mutation in the gene that causes the diseases would remain. But certainly, if we can extend the period in which the satellite cells proliferate and compensate for the underlying defect, we might increase the lifespan of people with muscular dystrophy. We could certainly increase their quality of life," said Dr. Sartorelli.

Likewise, in the elderly, tweaking the gene in satellite cells would not increase their lifespan, but could increase their quality of life by helping to prevent falls and enabling them to move and walk better and go about their daily activities.

Dr. Sartorelli cautions that while the identification of Ezh2's role is a crucial step, any therapies are still many years away.


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Contact: Trish Reynolds
reynoldsp2@mail.nih.gov
301-496-8190
NIH/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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