Dr Robyn M

Dr Robyn M Murphy

Associate Professor,
Head, Department of Biochemistry and Genetics

College of Science, Health and Engineering

School of Molecular Sciences

Department of Biochemistry and Genetics

Room 413, LIMS1, Melbourne (Bundoora)

Research centres

La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science


BSc (Hons) (VUT), PhD (Deakin University)



Membership of professional associations

Australian Physiological Society; Australian Society for Medical Research; American Physiological Society

Brief profile

I have a BSC in Chemistry and an Honours degree in Exercise biochemistry, both attained from Victoria University, Footscray, Australia. My PhD was in the area of creatine metabolism, completed at Deakin University, Burwood, Australia. I spent my postdoctoral years working with Prof Graham Lamb, Dept of Zoology, La Trobe University and I was awarded an NHMRC Peter Doherty postdoctoral training fellowship in 2006. In 2010 I began my academic position in Dept of Zoology, La Trobe University. I was the National Secretary for the Australian Physiological Society 2011-2013. I moved to the Department of Biochemistry and Genetics, La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science in 2015. I was appointed Head of Biochemistry and Genetics in December 2016.

My overall research interest is in the area of skeletal muscle in health and disease. The research of my group focuses on various aspects of skeletal muscle biochemistry in health and disease, using exercise and disease models in humans, as well as animal models.  In particular, we measure proteins in segments of individual fibres allowing issues with the heterogeneity of skeletal muscle to be overcome. We also examine movement of proteins following micro-dissection of fibres, allowing us to quantitatively assess the redistribution of proteins following various interventions.

A summary of my lab's research areas:

(1)    Understanding the regulation and functional properties of calcium dependent proteases, the calpains, in skeletal muscle. If an individual has an absent or non-functional muscle specific calpain-3, they develop a type of muscular dystrophy (LGMD2A). We use exercise as a manipulation to alter intracellular calcium levels, and also to see how stretching a muscle (ie. lengthening, or eccentric contractions) can affect the activation of calpains and their in vivo cellular targets.

(2)    Understanding how AMPK, GLUT4 and the proteins related to glycogen are involved in skeletal muscle function, in particular in response to exercise and diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Importantly, we are trying to understand what the mechanisms are that result in an improvement in this metabolic disease following exercise interventions.

(3)    Investigation of mitochondrial function in diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and exploration of any impairments in mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle obtained from old compared with young individuals. Mouse models are sometimes used to follow up changes seen.

Research interests

Healthy Ageing

- Mitochondrial function, glycogen regulationi

Muscle cell physiology

- Health and disease in skeletal muscle

Teaching units

MED3ATB - Advanced Topics in Medical Sciences B (Neuromuscular disorders)


Victorian Neuromuscular Laboratory Service, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne

Recent publications

For a complete list of publications see Google Scholar or Research Gate.

CR Lamboley, H Xu, TL Dutka, ED Hanson, A Hayes, JA Violet, RM Murphy and GD Lamb (2018) Effect of androgen deprivation therapy on the contractile properties of type I and type II skeletal muscle fibres in men with non-metastatic prostate cancer, Clinical and Experimental Physiology and Pharmacology, 45(2): 146-154.

Barker RG, van der Poel C, Horvath D and Murphy RM (2017) Benefits of pre-natal taurine supplementation in preventing the onset of acute damage in the mdx mouse, PLoS Curr., doi: 10.1371/currents.md.9a3e357a0154d01050b591601cbd4fdb.

Wette SG, Smith HK, Lamb GD and Murphy RM (2017) Characterization of Muscle Ankyrin Repeat Proteins in human skeletal muscle, Am J Physiol Cell Physiol, 313(3): C327-339.

Diermeier S, Buttgereit A, Schuermann S, Winter L, Xu H, Murphy RM, Clemen CS, Schröder R and Friedrich O (2017) Pre-aged remodelling of myofibrillar cytoarchitecture in skeletal muscle expressing R349P mutant desmin, Neurobiology of Aging, 58(C): 77-87, doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2017.06.001.

Wyckelsma VL, Levinger I, Murphy RM, Petersen AC, Perry BD, Hedges CP, Anderson MJ and McKenna MJ (2017) Intense interval training in healthy older adults increases skeletal muscle [3H]ouabain binding and also Na+,K+-ATPase α2 isoform abundance in Type II fibers, Physiol Rep., 5(7): e13219.

Wyckelsma VL, Levinger I, McKenna MJ, Formosa L, Ryan MT, Petersen AC and Murphy RM (2017) Preservation of skeletal muscle mitochondrial content in older adults: a relationship between mitochondrial dynamics, fibre type and exercise training, J Physiol, 595(11): 3345-3359.

Dutka TL, Mollica JP, Lamboley C, Weerakkody VC, Greening D, Posterino GS, Murphy RM and Lamb GD (2017) S-Nitrosylation and S-Glutathionylation of Cys134 on troponin I have opposing competitive actions on Ca2+ sensitivity in rat fast-twitch muscle fibers, Am J Physiol Cell Physiol, 312(3): C316-327.

Cully TR, Murphy RM, Roberts L, Raastad T, Fasse R, Coombes JS, Jayasinghe ID and Launikonis BS (2017) The plasmalemma of human skeletal muscle alters its structure to change its Ca2+ handling in response to heavy load resistance exercise, Nature Communications, 8: 14266.

MacInnis MJ, Zacharewicz E, Haikalis ME, Martin BJ, Skelly LE, Tarnopolsky MA, Murphy RM* and Gibala MJ* (2017) Superior mitochondrial adaptations in human skeletal muscle after interval compared to continuous single-leg cycling matched for total work, J Physiol., 595(9): 2955-2968.

Xu H, Lamb GD and Murphy RM (2017) Changes in contractile and metabolic parameters of skeletal muscle as rats age from 3 to 12 months, J Muscle Cell Res Motility, doi: 10.1007/s10974-017-9484-6.

Goodman C, Coenen A, Frey J, You J, Barker RG, Frankish BP, Murphy RM and Hornberger T (2017) Insights into the role and regulation of TCTP in skeletal muscle, Oncotarget, 8(12): 18754-18772, doi: 10.18632/ oncotarget.13009.

Gilbert DF, Stebbing M, Künzel1 K, Murphy RM, Zacharewicz E, Buttgereit A, Stokes L, Adams DJ and Friedrich O (2016) Store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) and purinergic receptor-mediated Ca2+ homeostasis in murine BV2 microglia cells: early cellular responses to ATP-mediated microglia activation, Front Mol Neuro., 9: 111.

Perry BD, Wyckelsma VL, Murphy RM, Steward C, Anderson M, Levinger I, Petersen AC and McKenna MJ (2016) Dissociation between short-term unloading and resistance training effects on skeletal muscle Na+-K+-ATPase, muscle function and fatigue in humans, J Appl Physiol., 121: 1074-86.

Horvath DM, Murphy RM, Mollica JP, Hayes A and Goodman C (2016) The effect of taurine and β-alanine supplementation on taurine transporter protein and fatigue resistance in skeletal muscle from mdx mice, Amino Acids, 48: 2635-45.

Mohktar RA, Montgomery MK, Murphy RM and Watt MJ (2016) Perilipin 5 is dispensable for normal substrate metabolism and in the adaptation of skeletal muscle to exercise training, Am J Physiol Endo Met., 311: E128-37.

Xu H, Frankenberg NT, Lamb GD, Gooley PR, Stapleton DI and Murphy RM (2016) When phosphorylated at Thr148, the β2 subunit of AMP activated kinase does not associate with glycogen in skeletal muscle, Am J Physiol Cell Physiol., 311: C35-42.

Wyckelsma VL, McKenna MJ, Levinger I, Petersen AC, Lamboley CR and Murphy RM (2016) Cell specific changes in the abundance of GAPDH and Na+, K+-ATPase proteins in skeletal muscle from aged individuals, implications for protein measurements, Exp Gerontol., 75: 8-15.

Cully TR, Edwards JN, Murphy RM and Launikonis BS (2016) A quantitative description of tubular system Ca2+-handling in fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibres, J Physiol., 594: 2795-810.

Lamboley CR, Wyckelsma VL, McKenna MJ, Murphy RM and Lamb GD (2016) Ca2+ leakage out of the sarcoplasmic reticulum is increased in type I skeletal muscle fibres in aged humans, J Physiol., 594: 469-81.

Harvey TJ, Murphy RM, Morrison J and Posterino GS (2015) Maternal nutrient restriction alters Ca2+ handling and contractile function of isolated left ventricle bundles in male but not female juvenile rats, PLoS One, 10(9): e0138388.

Lamboley CR, Wyckelsma VL, Dutka TL, McKenna MJ, Murphy RM and Lamb GD (2015) Contractile properties and sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium content in type I and type II skeletal muscle fibres in active aged humans, J Physiol., 593(11): 2499-514.

Xu H, Stapleton D and Murphy RM (2015) Rat skeletal muscle glycogen degradation pathways reveal differential association of glycogen related proteins with glycogen granules, J Biochem Physiol., 71(2): 267-80.

Murphy RM (2015) Clarity for AMPK – dissecting out human skeletal muscle responses to exercise, J Physiol., 593(8): 1769-70.

Wyckelsma VL, McKenna MJ, Serpiello FR, Lamboley CR, Aughey RJ, Stepto NK, Bishop DJ and Murphy RM (2015) Single fiber expression and fiber-specific adaptability to short-term intense exercise training of Na+,K+-ATPase α and β isoforms in human skeletal muscle, J Appl Physiol., 118(6): 699-706.

Hong YH, Frugier T, Zhang M, Murphy RM, Lynch GS, Betik AC, Rattigan S and McConell GK (2015) Glucose uptake during contraction in isolated skeletal muscle of neuronal nitric oxide synthase mu knockout mice, J Appl Physiol., 118(9): 1113-21.

Pompeani N, Rybalka E, Stathis CG, Latchman H, Murphy RM, Croft K and Hayes A (2015) Skeletal muscle atrophy in Zucker obese rats occurs independently of calpain activation or ROS-mediated lipase activity, J Negative Results, 13: 153.

Head SI, Chan S, Houweling P, Quinlan KGR, Murphy RM, Wagner S, Friedrich O and North KN (2014) Altered Ca2+ kinetics associated with α-Actinin-3 deficiency may explain positive selection for ACTN3 null allele in human evolution, PLoS Genet., 11(2): e1004862.

Kuruppath S, Sharp JA, Lefevre C, Murphy RM and Nicholas KR (2014) Comparative analysis of caveolins in mouse and tammar wallaby: Role in regulating mammary gland function, Gene, 552(1): 51-58.

Lamboley C, Murphy RM, McKenna M and Lamb GD (2014) Sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ uptake and leak properties and SERCA protein expression in type I and type II fibres of human skeletal muscle, J Physiol., 592(6): 1381-95.

Frankenberg NT, Lamb GD, Overgaard K, Murphy RM and Vissing K (2014) Small heat shock proteins translocate to the cytoskeleton in human skeletal muscle following eccentric exercise independently of phosphorylation, J Appl Physiol., 116(11): 1463-72.

Frankenberg NT, Lamb GD, Vissing K and Murphy RM (2014) Subcellular fractionation reveals HSP72 does not associate with SERCA in human skeletal muscle following damaging eccentric and concentric exercise, J Appl Physiol., 116(11): 1503-11.

Dutka TL, Lamboley CR, Murphy RM and Lamb GD (2014) Acute effects of taurine on sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ accumulation and contractility in human type I and type II skeletal muscle fibers, J Appl Physiol., 117(7): 797-805.

Murphy RM and Lamb GD (2013) Important considerations for protein analyses using antibody based techniques: down-sizing western blotting up-sizes outcomes, J Physiol., 591(23): 5823-31.

Lamboley C, Murphy RM, McKenna M and Lamb GD (2013) Endogenous and maximal sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium content and calsequestrin expression in Type I and Type II human skeletal muscle fibres, J Physiol., 591(23): 6053-68.

Fajardo VA, McMeekin L, Basic A, Lamb GD, Murphy RM and LeBlanc PJ (2013) Isolation of sarcolemmal plasma membranes by mechanically skinning rat skeletal muscle fibers for phospholipid analysis, Lipids, 48(4): 421-30.

Murphy RM, Dutka TL, Horvath D, Bell JR, Delbridge LM and Lamb GD (2013) Ca2+-dependent proteolysis of junctophilin 1 and junctophilin 2 in skeletal and cardiac muscle JP in muscle weakness, J Physiol Rapid Report, 591(3): 719-29.

Thomassen M, Murphy RM and Bangsbo J (2013) Fibre type specific changes in FXYD1 phosphorylation during acute intense exercise in humans, J Physiol Rapid Report, 591(6): 1523-33.

Cully TR, Edwards JN, Friedrich O, Stephenson DG, Murphy RM and Launikonis BS (2012) Changes in plasma membrane CaATPase (PMCA) and stromal interacting molecule 1 (STIM1) expression levels for Ca2+ signalling in dystrophic mdx mouse muscle, Am J Physiol Cell Physiol., 303(5): C567-76.

Larkins NT, Murphy RM and Lamb GD (2012) Influences of temperature, oxidative stress and phosphorylation on binding of heat shock proteins in skeletal muscle fibers, Am J Physiol Cell Physiol., 303(6): C654-65.

Murphy RM, Xu H, Latchman H, Larkins NT, Gooley PR and Stapleton D (2012) Single fiber analyses of glycogen related proteins reveal their differential association with glycogen in rat skeletal muscle, Am J Physiol Cell Physiol., 303(11): C1146-55.

Mollica JP, Dutka TL, Merry TL, Lamboley CR, McConell GK, McKenna MJ, Murphy RM and Lamb GD (2012) S-glutathionylation of Troponin I (fast) increases contractile apparatus Ca2+-sensitivity in fast-twitch muscle fibres in rats and humans, J Physiol., 590(6): 1443-63.

Dutka TL, Lamboley CR, McKenna MJ, Murphy RM and Lamb GD (2012) Effects of carnosine on contractile apparatus Ca2+-sensitivity and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release in human skeletal muscle fibers, J Appl Physiol., 112(5): 728-36.

Larkins NT, Murphy RM and Lamb GD (2012) Absolute amounts and diffusibility of HSP72, HSP25 and αB-crystallin in fast- and slow-twitch skeletal muscle fibers of rat, Am J Physiol Cell Physiol., 302(1): C228-39.

Older publications

Murphy RM (2011) Enhanced technique to measure proteins in single segments of human skeletal muscle fibers:  fiber type dependence of AMPK alpha1 and beta1, J Appl Physiol., 110(3): 820-25.

Murphy RM, Mollica JP, Beard NA, Knollmann BC and Lamb GD (2011) Quantification of calsequestrin 2 (CSQ2) in sheep cardiac muscle and Ca2+-binding protein changes in CSQ2-knockout mice, Am J Physiol Heart, 300(2): H595-604.

Edwards JN, Blackmore D, Murphy RM and Launikonis BS (2011) Store-operated calcium entry remains fully functional in aged mouse skeletal muscle despite a decline in STIM1 protein expression, Aging Cell, 10(4): 675-85.

Murphy RM, Vissing K, Latchman H, Lamboley C, McKenna MJ, Overgaard K and Lamb GD (2011) Activation of calpain-3 by eccentric exercise in humans does not result in its translocate to the nucleus or cytosol, J Appl Physiol., 111(5): 1448-58.

Research projects

Research projects I have on offer include:

Investigation of skeletal muscle function and biochemistry in a mouse model of inducible multiple sclerosis (in collaboration with Dr Jacquie Orian, Dept of Biochemistry and Genetics).

Other projects in the broad area of skeletal muscle in health and disease upon discussion.