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Skeletal muscles constitute, together with sensory and somatic motor neurons, the functional units for locomotion. Continuous adaptive remodeling of these muscles in response to training, damage, disease or ageing is therefore an essential prerequisite for the viability of the entire organism.

Development and regeneration of skeletal muscles can be separated in distinct phases of proliferation, migration and fusion of muscle‑specific progenitor (myoblasts) or stem cells (satellite cells) during development or adulthood respectively. Each step relies on a complex signaling cascade of ligand-receptor binding, intracellular downstream molecules and transcriptional changes.

By employing systemic or conditional gene knockout models, we could provide first evidence that peripheral nerves can influence myoblast migration during development. To deepen the knowledge of these close interactions between the peripheral nerve system and the musculoskeletal system, we utilize basic in vitro assays, in vivo models and modern methods like CRISPR-CAS gene editing (gain- and loss-of-function) or deep sequencing. 

Future comprehensive understanding of the close interaction between motor neuron growth cones and myoblasts/myofibers during development, adulthood and various muscle related diseases, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD) or sarcopenia, will help to develop novel therapeutic treatments to cure these severe diseases.


Current Projects

  1. Generation and characterization of a inducible transgenic Myostatin mouse model
  2. Crosstalk between axonal growth cones and myoblasts during development
  3. Uncovering novel ligand-receptor systems that are involved in muscle development and regeneration
  4. Auto- and paracrine ligands that influence myoblast fusion and alignment

Group Leader

Maximilian Saller studied Biological Engineering and Micro- and Nanotechnology at the Munich University of Applied Science (Munich, Germany) where he evaluated novel scaffolds for bone and cartilage regeneration and investigated the consequence of low oxygen tension onto mesenchymal stem cells. Afterwards, he did his joint PhD at the Institute of Developmental Genetics (Helmholtz Center Munich; Dr. Andrea Huber Brösamle) and ExperiMed (University Hospital of Munich; PD Dr. Attila Aszódi). During his PhD he studied the influence of Sema3A-Npn-1 signaling onto the guidance of phrenic nerves and the later innervation of the thoracic diaphragm. Since 2016 he is a group leader for neuromuscular interaction with the musculoskeletal system during muscle development and regeneration.