A team of investigators have created a mouse model that they believe will be useful in monitoring muscle regeneration and muscle cancers. They reportedly created a switch that turns on mutations or light signals in muscle stem cells.
Reporting in the March 30 issue of FASEB Journal, the scientists bred mice with a gene called Cre, which can trigger mutations in muscle stem cells. They generated a bicistronic Cre/LoxP reporter mouse line that pairs the expression of firefly luciferase with quantifiable expression of a human placental alkaline phosphatase that is secreted into the serum.
Using these fluorescent techniques, the researchers were able to visualize stem cells and their derivatives to pinpoint exactly where muscle tissue was being made.
In the next phase of their research, the scientists activated tumor-causing mutations in the muscle stem cells. They report that this gave them insights about the origins of muscle tumors, which previously have been elusive.