With cold weather approaching, many are digging out old jackets to find that the zippers don’t function as well as they used to. This is a good way to understand disruptions of muscle cell attachment studied by Emory cell biologist Guy Benian’s lab.
“This is yet another example in which research using the model genetic organism C. elegans has led to a new insight applicable to all animals, including humans,” Benian says. “Research on this organism has led to crucial advances in our understanding about development, cell death, aging and longevity, RNAi, microRNAs, epigenetics — and muscle.”
On average, football players’ resting heart rate went down significantly (72 to 61 beats per minute), but there were no significant changes in body mass index or blood pressure. The research team observed changes in players’ amino acid metabolism, which they attribute to muscle buildup.
This finding may seem obvious, but imagine what a larger, more detailed analysis could do: start to replace locker room myths and marketing aimed at bodybuilders with science. This was a small, preliminary study, and the authors note they were not able to assess diet or nutritional supplementation. Read more
While the Emory researchers did not directly assess the effects of exercise in their experiments, their findings provide molecular clues to how exercise might slow the effects of aging or chronic disease in some cell types.
Xiong and Alexander foundÂ that the dietary supplement alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can stimulate telomerase, with positive effects in a mouse model of atherosclerosis.Â ALA is a sulfur-containing fatty acid used to treat diabetic neuropathy in Germany, and has previously been shown to combat atherosclerosis in animal models. The Emory authors’ main focus was on vascular smooth muscle cells and note that more study of ALA’s effects on other cell types is needed.
BelowÂ are fourÂ key references that may help youÂ putÂ the Cell Reports paper in context: Read more
Two researchers at Emory, Anita Corbett and Grace Pavlath, recently have combined their expertise to probe how a puzzling form of muscular dystrophy develops.
Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) is an inherited type of muscular dystrophy that primarily affects muscles of the face and throat. In the video below, Anita Corbett explains how this affects patients as they get older.
The mutations that cause the disease make a protein called PABPN1 longer and stickier than normal, and the mutated protein appears to form clumps in muscle cells.
The puzzle lies in that PABPN1 (poly A binding protein nuclear 1)Â can be found everywhere in the body, but it’s not clear why the mutated protein specifically affects muscle cells — or why the muscles in the face and throat are especially vulnerable.
In December 2009, Corbett, Pavlath and postdoctoral fellow Luciano Apponi published a paper where they suggest that the clumps of mutated protein, which some researchers have proposed to be toxic, might not be the whole story. A lack of functioning PABPN1 might be just as strong a factor in the disease, they’ve discovered.