New type of stem cell discovered leads to $ 2.3 million grant

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – When muscle is damaged, resident stem cells are involved in repairing damaged tissue. At the same time, circulating immune cells rush to the site to facilitate repair. The presence of these infiltrating immune cells at sites of injury raises questions about their role in coordinating with muscle stem cells to build or regenerate muscle tissue.

Shihuan Kuang, Professor Purdue of animal science, identified a hitherto unknown subset of muscle stem cells, which he dubbed “immunomyoblasts,” which possess both muscle stem cell and immune cell properties and may shed light on how these cells interact. National institutes of health National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases recently awarded Kuang $ 2.3 million over five years to develop a basic understanding of the origins and functions of these cells.

“These stem cells have unique properties that raise questions about their origin and their relationship to muscle and immune cells,” Kuang said. “This grant will allow us to answer these fundamental questions and lay the groundwork for applied research on how immunomyoblasts could be targeted to treat disease and improve animal agriculture.”

Kuang’s laboratory identified the new subcategory stem cells through a technique called single-cell RNA sequencing. It allows scientists to profile all of the genes expressed in a cell by decoding the single-stranded RNAs that have been produced in the cell. His team did this with more than 50,000 cells to recognize the unique properties of cells and determine that immunomyoblasts are a subset of cells that express both muscle and immune genes.

Kuang will use a strategy called cell line (or fate) mapping to understand where immunomyoblasts come from – whether it is a form of existing muscle stem cells that can communicate with infiltrating immune cells. The process involves tracking differentiated cells to their origins.

From there, Kuang will determine the types of immune cells – T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, microphages, or others – that immunomyoblasts communicate with and how this coordination plays a role in muscle development and repair.

The knowledge gained from Kuang’s work could open up new avenues for research into muscle disease. Understanding how to improve muscle regeneration could lead to therapies that can fight diseases like muscular dystrophy.

It may also be possible to learn more about how muscle grows in pigs, cattle and other animals raised for meat and to improve these processes.

Kuang’s collaborators in the study include Stephanie Oprescu, an NIH-supported graduate student; Feng Yue, scientific researcher in animal sciences; Luis Brito, assistant professor in animal sciences; Matthew Olson, assistant professor of biological sciences; and Timothy Ratliff, professor of comparative pathobiology.

Writer: Brian Wallheimer; 765-532-0233; [email protected]

Source: Shihuan Kuang 765-494-8283; [email protected]

Agricultural communications: 765-494-8415;

Maureen Manier, Head of Department, [email protected]

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