Force sensing and growth of skeletal muscle We want to understand how muscle activity, and particularly the physical force experienced by muscle during its contraction, influences muscle growth and maintenance. Loss or alteration of skeletal muscle is increasingly implicated in conditions such as age-related muscle weakening (sarcopenia), type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer cachexia, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and AIDS. It is therefore essential to understand how muscle mass and character are controlled. Exercise and nutrition are important environmental factors that interact with an individual's genetic make-up throughout the life course to maintain muscle, heart and whole-body health. By studying the basic molecular genetic mechanisms controlling muscle growth in a simple system, the transparent zebrafish, we hope to find fundamental mechanisms controlling muscle maintenance in all vertebrates, including people. Image: Single cells (green, visualized by injection of DNA encoding GFP) in a live transgenic zebrafish embryo with marked skeletal muscle (red).