To make “mini muscles” from stem cells, you need the protein BAF60C.
Pier Lorenzo Puri, Ph.D., and his team study what makes a muscle cell just that—a muscle cell. They’re especially interested in applying that information to regenerate new muscle for people with muscular dystrophy.
Last year, the team discovered that two proteins called MyoD and BAF60C work together to mark the DNA of precursor cells, setting them on a course to become muscle cells. When the MyoD/BAF60c complex receives the right signals, it unwinds the cell’s genome and begins the process of producing muscle-specific proteins. This chain of events eventually triggers these precursor cells—those that hang out in our normal muscle tissue—to mature into new muscle cells.