Fountain of Youth: Molecular Switch Holds Key to Reserve Supply of Muscle Stem Cells
After injury, even adult muscles can heal very well because they have a reserve supply of muscle stem cells, called satellite cells, which they can utilize for repair. Until now, it was unclear how this supply of satellite and muscle progenitor cells, out of which both muscle cells as well as satellite cells develop, keeps itself “fresh”. Developmental biologists Professor Carmen Birchmeier, Dr. Elena Vasyutina, and Diana Lenhard of the MDC Berlin-Buch, Germany, have now demonstrated that a molecular switch, abbreviated RBP-J, regulates this “fountain of youth”. If the switch is absent, the satellite cells generate muscle cells in an uncontrolled way, resulting in the depletion of the satellite cell reserves.