The Nowak Lab

Photo of Detail of muscles in Drosophila embryoThe Nowak lab uses myogenesis as a model system to study mechanisms of gene regulation during organismal development. Myogenesis collectively refers to the formation and development of muscle, such as the body wall muscles in Drosophila melanogaster and the skeletal musculature of vertebrate animals. During muscle formation, mononucleated myoblasts differentiate by expressing muscle-specific gene products under the control of these transcription factors, and fuse together to form a multinucleated muscle fiber. The differentiation and fusion process is essential not only for embryonic muscle development but also for the maintenance and regeneration of healthy adult muscle in mammals. Disruption of muscle homeostasis and regeneration results in progressive muscle wasting and degeneration. Photo of Cultured mouse myoblasts, stained for membrane markers and actin cytoskeletonUnderstanding the differentiation and fusion process of myogenesis is critical for improving efficacy of therapies aimed at mitigating or reversing the devastating effects of muscle wasting, which can occur due to muscle injury, stroke, cancer cachexia, and muscular dystrophy disorders.

We use a combination of Drosophila genetics and mouse tissue culture systems to understand regulation of the different events that occur during muscle formation.

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