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Newly identified enzyme could play key role in childbirth and muscle diseases

Image of an enzyme molecule
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Dec 14 2018

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Research, Faculty

A team of scientists led by Professor Or Gozani have solved a 50-year-old mystery that could open up new areas of research into muscle disorders. The study revealed a human enzyme that modifies muscle proteins to help them grow and remain strong.

Since the 1960s, scientists have known of a modification that occurs to a particular molecule in muscles, especially after exercise. What scientists haven’t known is how that modification happens, or even why. 3D rendering of molecules. Now, in a serendipitous finding that started with seemingly unrelated work in viral infections, Gozani and colleagues have discovered not only how the modification takes place – it’s through an enzyme called SETD3 – but found that the enzyme likely helps coordinate muscle contractions by the uterus during childbirth. More broadly, SETD3 could also be a hitherto unrealized factor in a range of human muscle tissue diseases. The study was published in Nature on December 10, 2018.