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Nucleic Acid Aptamer Selection Against Myostatin as a Therapeutic Treatment for Amyotrophic Disorders

The protein myostatin, or GDF8 (growth differentiation factor 8), has been shown to regulate muscle mass growth (myogenesis) by inhibiting myoblast proliferation and differentiation. The theory is that, through a receptor-mediated signal transduction pathway, myostatin stops the cell cycle at G1 phase and prevents myoblasts from undergoing S phase. However, there are people who suffer from muscular dystrophy or other myoatrophic conditions and wish to have greater muscle mass. It is in these scenarios that myostatin inhibition might have beneficial effects.

If the myostatin molecule is somehow disabled or modified so that it can no longer activate the signal transduction pathway, then muscle growth can be promoted. One approach to this task is the use of aptamers, which are RNA oligonucleotides that are capable of binding to a specific target with high affinity and specificity. Aptamers are designed through a careful process of selection, in which the RNA ligands that bind more strongly to the desired target are replicated. Using these aptamers against myostatin might promote muscle development.

Specific aim 1: Aptamer selection against myostatin protein to inhibit myostatin action.

It is hypothesized that the myostatin aptamers will bind to its target protein before these can reach the receptors that activate the signal transduction pathway that negatively regulate proliferation and differentiation. The myostatin-aptamer conjugated protein will have such a foreign shape and form that, when it reaches the receptor, the binding site will not recognize it, rendering it incapable of triggering the signal transduction pathway, and thus, unable to inhibit muscle growth.

Figure 1. Diagram of the development of myotubes(muscle cells). The black lines show at which points in the process does myostatin (MSTN) exert its negative regulation. The red lines show where the aptamers will take action to prevent myostatin from triggering the signal transduction pathway. Picture courtesy of Rios, Ramon (2001).

Myostatin can be purchased at GenWay at 10ug for $165. Catalog number: 10-663-45269


Rios, Ramon (2001) "Myostatin is an inhibitor of myogenic differentiation" American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology.

Thomas, Mark (2001) "Myostatin, a Negative Regulator of Muscle Growth, Functions by Inhibiting Myoblast Proliferation" The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Whittemore, Lisa-Anne (2003) "Inhibition of myostatin in adult mice increases skeletal muscle mass and strength" Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Volume 300, Issue 4, Pages 965-971


Vivian Esparza said...

Would it be able to regulate the protein in people who have less muscle mass than usual?

Dustin said...

Is there a chance that inhibiting a regulator could lead to other disorders, perhaps cancer?

Jake Van Fleet said...

At what stage in development does myostatin have an effect on muscle generation? Would this have to be used in prenatal development to be effective or is it viable to use postnatally?