Laboratory of Muscle Biology

Actin filaments grown from a nano-fan pattern.

The Laboratory of Muscle Biology (LMB) conducts a broad range of research in muscle and structural biology. This research includes the molecular mechanisms of contraction, muscle elasticity and plasticity, the differentiation and assembly of muscle cells, pathobiology of muscle diseases, and the development and application of emerging technologies in proteomics and nanotechnology.

The LMB is divided into two Sections: Muscle Physiology and Muscle Proteomics and Nanotechnology; and two Groups: Muscle Assembly and Muscle Gene Expression. Each Section and Group has its own "Head" with responsibility for overseeing the projects and work of researchers within the work group.

The Muscle Physiology Section investigates the molecular mechanism and control of muscle contraction. The research emphasizes functional and structural studies of the interactions between actin and myosin, and the conversion of metabolic energy to mechanical forces in living muscle tissues. X-ray diffractions, fluorescence, and other spectroscopic techniques are applied in parallel with biochemical and mechanical measurements to reveal the function of molecular motors in skeletal and cardiac muscle cells.

The Muscle Proteomics and Nanotechnology Section investigates the roles of structural, mechanochemical, and regulatory proteins in the assembly and function of the force-generating structure of skeletal and cardiac muscles. The research focuses on two families of giant muscle cytoskeletal proteins, titin and nebulin, and the roles they play in muscle elasticity, in myofibrillogenesis, in muscle diseases, and in calcium regulation of force production. A multidisciplinary approach to the research integrates molecular biology, cell biology, biophysics, biochemistry, nanotechnology, and protein engineering techniques, such as atomic force microscopy, confocal microscopy, single molecule fluorescence spectroscopy, and laser tweezers with the study of molecular motors and molecular springs in skeletal and cardiac muscles.

The Muscle Assembly Group investigates the molecular mechanisms for assembly of myofibrils and their attachment to the myotendenous junction of skeletal and cardiac muscles. The research addresses the role of N-RAP, a nebulin-related protein, in the force transduction and attachment of myofibrils to the plasma membrane at the myotendenous junction of skeletal muscles.

The Muscle Gene Expression Group investigates the role of transcriptional factors in the gene expression and differentiation of muscle cells. Current research focuses on the role of nuclear acetyltransferases and deacetylases in muscle gene expression, cellular differentiation and regeneration.


Updated August 18, 2010