Muscle cell research
The Muscle Cell Research Group has a long-standing reputation for elucidating cellular mechanisms of muscle function in health and disease. Using a variety of species, including humans, the group examines both skeletal and cardiac muscle, typically at the single cell (fibre) level. Single fibre studies using human skeletal muscle is pertinent, because most research is confounded by the heterogeneity of muscle in terms of fibre type composition. The ability to measure proteins in individual fibres overcomes these issues. Physiological parameters of muscle are examined, and involve measurements including contractile function, sarcoplasmic reticulum and calcium handling properties and steps involved in excitation-contraction coupling. A unique feature of the group is their ability to measure physiological parameters in single fibres where the surface membrane has been removed (mechanically-skinned single fibre segments) and then to analyse the same muscle segment biochemically. This combination of biochemistry and physiology provides pivotal advances to further our understanding of mechanisms of muscle function.
Areas of particular interest to the various members of the group include:
- Mechanisms of muscle fatigue
- Consequences of oxidative stress on muscle function – the good and the bad
- Calcium handling and properties of calcium dependent proteases, calpains
- Muscular perturbations in offspring born small
- Neuromuscular diseases
- Metabolic diseases
- Cardiac muscle function in health and disease
The group leaders give regular national and international presentations about their research.