Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tweaking a gene makes muscles twice as strong: New avenue for treating muscle degeneration in people who can't exercise

Date:
November 21, 2011
Source:
Salk Institute
Summary:
An international team of scientists has created super-strong, high-endurance mice and worms by suppressing a natural muscle-growth inhibitor, suggesting treatments for age-related or genetics-related muscle degeneration are within reach.

This image shows dramatically enhanced muscle tissue in a high performing mouse, which has greater numbers of mitochondria (brown), the energy factories of cells. Through genetic engineering, the mouse developed stronger muscles than normal, even though it was inactive. In the image, a blood vessel (seen in cross section) is red and muscle fibers are blue.
Credit: Courtesy of Salk Institute for Biological Studies

An international team of scientists has created super-strong, high-endurance mice and worms by suppressing a natural muscle-growth inhibitor, suggesting treatments for age-related or genetics-related muscle degeneration are within reach.

Related Articles


The project was a collaboration between researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and two Swiss institutions, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Lausanne.

The scientists found that a tiny inhibitor may be responsible for determining the strength of our muscles. By acting on a genome regulator (NCoR1), they were able to modulate the activity of certain genes, creating a strain of mighty mice whose muscles were twice a strong as those of normal mice.

"There are now ways to develop drugs for people who are unable to exercise due to obesity or other health complications, such as diabetes, immobility and frailty," says Ronald M. Evans, a professor in Salk's Gene Expression Lab, who led the Salk team. "We can now engineer specific gene networks in muscle to give the benefits of exercise to sedentary mice."

Johan Auwerx, the lead author from EPFL, says molecules such as NCoR1 are molecular brakes that decrease the activity of genes. Releasing the brake by mutation or with chemicals can reactivate gene circuits to provide more energy to muscle and enhance its activity.

In an article appearing in the journal Cell, the Salk researchers and their collaborators reported on the results of experiments done in parallel on mice and nematodes. By genetically manipulating the offspring of these species, the researchers were able to suppress NCoR1, which normally acts to inhibit the buildup of muscle tissues.

In the absence of the inhibitor, the muscle tissue developed much more effectively. The mice with the mutation became true marathoners, capable of running faster and longer before showing any signs of fatigue. In fact, they were able to cover almost twice the distance run by mice that hadn't received the treatment. They also exhibited better cold tolerance.

Unlike previous experiments that focused on "genetic accelerators" this work shows that suppressing an inhibitor is a new way to build muscle. Examination under a microscope confirmed that the muscle fibers of the modified mice are denser, the muscles are more massive, and the cells in the tissue contain higher numbers of mitochondria -- cellular organelles that deliver energy to the muscles.

Similar results were also observed in nematode worms, allowing the scientists to conclude that their results could be applicable to a large range of living creatures.

The scientists have not yet detected any harmful side effects associated with eliminating the NCoR1 receptor from muscle and fat tissues. Although the experiments involved genetic manipulations, the researchers are already investigating potential drug molecules that could be used to reduce the receptor's effectiveness.

The researchers say their results are a milestone in our understanding of certain fundamental mechanisms of living organisms, in particular the little-studied role of corepressors -- molecules that inhibit the expression of genes. In addition, they give a glimpse at possible long-term therapeutic applications.

"This could be used to combat muscle weakness in the elderly, which leads to falls and contributes to hospitalizations," Auwerx says. "In addition, we think that this could be used as a basis for developing a treatment for genetic muscular dystrophy."

He added that if these results are confirmed in humans, there's no question they will attract interest from athletes as well as medical experts.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Salk Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hiroyasu Yamamoto, Evan G. Williams, Laurent Mouchiroud, Carles Cantó, Weiwei Fan, Michael Downes, Christophe Héligon, Grant D. Barish, Béatrice Desvergne, Ronald M. Evans, Kristina Schoonjans, Johan Auwerx. NCoR1 Is a Conserved Physiological Modulator of Muscle Mass and Oxidative Function. Cell, 2011; 147 (4): 827 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.10.017

Cite This Page:

Salk Institute. "Tweaking a gene makes muscles twice as strong: New avenue for treating muscle degeneration in people who can't exercise." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111121104509.htm>.
Salk Institute. (2011, November 21). Tweaking a gene makes muscles twice as strong: New avenue for treating muscle degeneration in people who can't exercise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111121104509.htm
Salk Institute. "Tweaking a gene makes muscles twice as strong: New avenue for treating muscle degeneration in people who can't exercise." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111121104509.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins