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Researchers at the University of Basel have made important discoveries regarding muscle regeneration. These findings may eventually facilitate treatment of age-related muscle weakness.
The synapse between nerve and muscle fibers is known as the neuromuscular endplate. If this synapse is injured, the muscle is unable to function fully. However, these synapses can be repaired, in which a key role is played by the protein complex mTORC1, as revealed now by a research group headed up by Markus Rüegg at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel in a press release.
The Basel-based research group did not discover mTORC1. The function of this protein complex in promoting muscle growth and the cellular self-cleaning process had already been established. Perrine Castets, lead author of the “Nature Communications” study, commented in the press release: “We have now been able to show that mTORC1 also plays an important role in the maintenance of the neuromuscular endplate”.
At the same time, Rüegg’s research group also discovered the circumstances under which mTORC1 repairs the neuromuscular endplate. To this end, the protein complex must be activated by the protein kinase PKB/Akt. However, mTORC1 should “should not be activated too strongly nor too little”.
The study conducted by the Basel-based research team also provides insight into how age-related muscle weakness may develop. Rüegg commented: “Through this study, we now better understand the molecular mechanisms contributing to the maintenance of the neuromuscular junctions. Based on our results, we may be able to develop new approaches to potentially counteract age-related deficits and structural changes in order to better preserve the performance and functional capabilities of the muscles during ageing”.