Moon-Chang Choi, a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University in Durham, N.C., was awarded an MDA development grant totaling $120,000 over a period of two years to study one of the molecular controls regulating muscle repair.
When muscle becomes damaged, new muscle cells form by division of satellite cells, a type of stem cell found in muscles. “Understanding the mechanism that controls satellite cell activation could provide opportunities to increase muscle regeneration and provide therapeutic relief to patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD),”Choi says.
His work will focus on a protein called HDAC4, which he has previously shown is required for satellite cell activation in damaged muscle. Now, Choi will further characterize the role of HDAC4 in satellite cell activation, using a mouse model in which HDAC4 is specifically inactivated in satellite cells. He also will examine the effect of a loss of HDAC4 in the most commonly used mouse model of DMD.
“The ability of muscle stem cells to transition from a quiescent state to a rapidly proliferative state is one of the most remarkable but mysterious aspects of stem cell biology,” Choi says. “Given that the satellite cell program is often impaired in muscle dystrophy, the study of these fundamental mechanisms could have important clinical implications.”
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2013.