Australian research discovers new gene to power up muscles

An Australian research has identified a gene that boosts muscle strength when switched on by exercising.

An Australian research has identified a gene that boosts muscle strength when switched on by exercising, unlocking the potential for the development of therapeutic treatments to mimic some of the benefits of working out.

Published in the journal Cell Metabolism and revealed on Tuesday, the study led by the University of Melbourne showed how different types of exercise changed the molecules in muscles, resulting in the discovery of the new C18ORF25 gene that is activated with all types of exercise and responsible for promoting muscle strength. Animals without C18ORF25 have poor exercise performance and weaker muscles.

Project lead, Benjamin Parker from the University of Melbourne, said by activating the gene, the research team could see muscles become much stronger, without them becoming necessarily bigger.

"Identifying this gene may impact how we manage healthy aging, diseases of muscle atrophy, sports science and even livestock and meat production," said Parker.

In the study, a collaboration between Parker and scientists from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, was able to identify the molecular similarities and differences between various types of exercise in human muscle biopsies by analysing proteins and how they change within cells.

"To identify how genes and proteins are activated during and after different exercises, we performed an analysis of human skeletal muscle from a cross-over intervention of endurance, sprint and resistance exercise," Parker said.

The experimental design allowed researchers to compare signalling responses between the exercise modalities in the same individual, relative to their pre-exercise level. This meant they could monitor how an individual responded to different types of exercise directly in their muscles.

Importantly, it also allowed the study team to identify genes and proteins that consistently change across all individuals and all types of exercise, leading to the discovery of the new gene.

"We know exercise can prevent and treat chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many cancers," Parker said.

"Now, we hope that by better understanding how different types of exercise elicits these health promoting effects at the molecular level, the field can work toward making new and improved treatment options available."

Special Reports