MDA awarded a grant totaling $160,000 to Dawn Cornelison, assistant professor in the division of biology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, for research into the role of a protein called syndecan-4 in muscle tissue repair after damage.
After muscle injury, Cornelison said, satellite cells (immature muscle cells) move in to make repairs. In order to do their job, the satellite cells need to perform a series of activities: They must first be 'activated' by signals resulting from injury; then divide several times to make more potential muscle cells; then stop dividing; and finally mature, or differentiate, into functional muscle.
In previous MDA-supported work, Cornelison and her research team analyzed a mouse engineered to lack the syndecan-4 protein and found that its satellite cells were unable to perform all of their normal muscle-repair functions. The group found that different parts of the syndecan-4 protein are responsible for regulating different satellite-cell functions in the muscle-repair process.
In its new work the group aims to identify proteins that interact with syndecan-4 and gain a better understanding of how the satellite cells carry out the four activities necessary for muscle repair.
"Funding from MDA has been critical to the progress and development of both this project and my scientific career," Cornelison said. "Particularly in the current environment, with the odds of obtaining funding for general research falling below 10 percent, knowing that MDA is there to sponsor research into muscle disease and regeneration is critical to retaining scientists in the field and encouraging others to undertake research into muscle diseases."
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2010.