Megan Key

Scholar: Megan Key

 Megan Key

 Major: Biochemistry

Faculty Mentors: Dean Burkin and Pam Vanry

Research Topic: Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy and Therapy Development

Abstract: Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked congenital neuromuscular disease that affects 1 in every 3,500 new born boys. Patients affected by the disorder have a mutation in the gene for dystrophin which is essential to the strength and stability of muscle cell sarcolemma as it is a key component of the dystrophin glycoprotein complex (DGC). A mutation in any part of the complex will lead to disease pathology characterized by the degradation of skeletal muscles14. There is currently no cure or effective treatment for DMD. Patients affected with the disease have a shortened life expectancy and decreased life quality. Galectin-1 is a protein of the lectin family found to be involved in skeletal muscle differentiation and proliferation. It also interacts with the α7β1 integrin as well as extracellular laminin5,7. In this study, we explore whether intraperitoneal (IP) treatment of mdx mice with 20 mg/kg recombinant mouse Galectin-1 (rMs Gal-1) will enhance key sarcolemma stabilizing  proteins and increase muscle repair/regeneration in the mdx mouse to rescue the disease phenotype. Functional tests show that rMs Gal-1 treated mdx mice have improved muscle strength and activity. Histology and Western blot analysis also show muscle fiber improvements with increased concentrations of key ECM and transmembrane proteins in treated mdx mice. Together, this suggests that Galectin-1 could serve as an effective treatment for DMD.

Earned Baccalaureate Degree: spring 2015

Doctoral Program Update: Enrolled in Ph.D. Program, Biological and Biomedical Science, University of North Carolina School of Medicine