Scientists locate active genes in muscles of men and women

October 6, 2014

Topic: sports medicine

When people see the doctor because of injury, an age issue or a disease related to their muscles, they want to know what is wrong.

When people see the doctor because of injury, an age issue or a disease related to their muscles, they want to know what is wrong. Now, people may be able to understand better, thanks to a few scientists in sports medicine. The findings were published in FASEB Journal.

Discovering the role genes play in muscle function
Researchers recently found the genes that play a significant role in muscle issues, disorders and injuries. A previous review published in Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews noted that skeletal muscle disorders can be classified into three groups. These include issues with muscular dystrophy and muscle's poor metabolism, both of which can affect athletic performance and endurance.

Laying out the map
The scientists produced a transcriptome, a group of molecules that allows researchers to see which genes are active in a muscle at a certain time. The study authors also found groundbreaking gene activity indicating that men have 400 more active genes in skeletal muscle than women.

"I hope that the gene activity results from this study will become a reference for human skeletal muscle and provide the basis for many new studies investigating skeletal muscle in different diseases and dysfunctions," Maléne Lindholm, M.D., said in a statement. "In that way, we can understand our muscles better and possibly develop more optimal treatments and a more personalized health care."

Examining pieces of muscle
The study authors used nine male and nine female participants. While each was under anesthesia, the researchers took small pieces of skeletal muscle from their legs. The scientists isolated gene transcripts from each piece of muscle. Gene transcripts are the first part of gene expression, which helps scientist learn more about a gene's formation and effect, a previous review published in the journal Genome Research stated. The transcripts were sequenced to create a common code to help compare the pieces of muscle between men and women. The study findings produced a complete transcriptome, or all the full transcripts that are present in muscles at some point. 

Looking forward
"This report is another important step toward developing treatments based on genome and gender," Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, said in a statement. "Each gene that has been identified as being active in skeletal muscle is a potential drug target for a variety of muscle diseases, disorders and conditions."

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