Kuwaiti Mohammad Al-Khalaf publishes a new study

Mohammad Al-Khalaf
Mohammad Al-Khalaf

Kuwait: A new study from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and University of Ottawa, at the Dr Megeney Regenerative Medicine program laboratory, recently published at Nature Cell Discovery 2016, uncovers a fascinating link between the process of muscle generation and DNA damage repair within newly developing cells.

Lead author of the study, Kuwaiti PhD candidate Mohammad Al-Khalaf, describes the results as “exciting link between two independently well researched areas of molecular biology, one being Stem Cell Differentiation and the other is DNA Damage Response”. The study uncovers the role of X-ray cross-complementing protein 1 (XRCC1) in early myoblast differentiation. There is a need to coordinate repair of DNA breaks within genes involved in the process of transforming muscle progenitor cells into mature myofibers, and XRCC1 is shown to be the protein responsible for repairing these DNA breaks. Al-Khalaf says “we are one step closer to understanding the integral processes needed to allow cells to transform from stern-like states, into mature differentiated cells”. The ultimate goal of this research has tremendous potential in the emerging health field of Regenerative Medicine.

The role of XRCC1, the study shows, is limited to a short window during early differentiation of the progenitor cells. When the researchers inhibited or completely deleted the XRCC1 gene, they were able to halt the fusion of individual muscle cells to form the long muscle fibers that make up the structure of adult muscle tissue. The Megeney group has long been interested in uncovering the molecular pathways responsible for muscle development. Now moving forward, they are looking into discovering all the potential genes being targeted for repair and activation during early muscle differentiation. Al-Khalaf concludes by saying “The nature of science is that we can only move one step at a time, we can’t skip over or take shortcuts. We have to be Patient and we have to let the data guide us in whatever direction it leads. Learning to be patient might be the most important lesson I had during my years in university and in the lab!”

Original journal article reference:
Mohammad H Al-Khalaf, Leanne E Blake, Brian D Larsen, Ryan A Bell, Steve Brunette, Robin J Parks, Michael A Rudnicki, Peter J McKinnon, F Jeffrey Dilworth, and Lynn A Megeney. Temporal activation of XRCC1-mediated DNA repair is essential for muscle differentiation. Cell Discovery, 2016. DOI: 10.1038/celldisc.2015.41

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