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Mobile Repairs

Muscle cell nuclei migrate to sites of injury to deliver RNA to repair the muscle

16 November 2021

Mobile Repairs

Racing to repair our skeletal muscles after injury, satellite cells orbit our stretchy muscle cells, or myofibres, and fuse together to plug gaps. But here scientists reveal another, surprising source of help – the swift movement of the cells’ own nuclei. Daily damage from exercise triggers the myofibre’s multiple myonuclei (highlighted in blue here) to zip along the fibre (yellow and pink), alerted by chemical signals to the area of damage seen at the top left – a bit like the flashing lights on ambulances, only ~10,000 times smaller. At the scene, the myonuclei produce messenger RNA molecules which act as blueprints for proteins involved in cellular reconstruction, helping to rebuild and strengthen the muscle. The next step is to understand how this form of repair is affected by diseases like muscular dystrophy, and what scientists can do to help.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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