We are investigating the mechanobiology of muscle. We are interested in how functional muscles are made during development and how they remain functional through the lifespan of an animal.
The strength of our group lies in its unique combination of systematic genetics and live in vivo cell biology, with mechano- and structural biology. We are using Drosophila in vivo and human iPSC in vitro models to study the mechanisms how muscle assemble their contractile sarcomeres and how these sarcomeres are serviced in the living animal to remain functional throughout life. Sarcomeres are amongst the largest protein assemblies in animals: they produce high forces and mechanically link to the skeleton to power animal movement. Hence, sarcomeres are a fantastic playground to understand basic principles of biology:
How do thousands of large proteins assemble to build a micro-meter large pseudo-crystalline sarcomere?
How do thousands of sarcomeres self-assemble to chains that mechanically connect across centi-meter long muscle fibers?
How are sarcomere development and maintenance coordinated with the other physiological requirements of muscle cells including mitochondria biogenesis, T-tubule formation and proteasomal turn-over of damaged proteins throughout life?
Answering these questions will enable us to better understand how muscle are effectively built during development, how they adapt to their different physiological needs (see heart vs. skeletal muscles) and how they remain functional for our entire life.
The European Research Council (ERC) awarded one of the rare ERC Synergy Grants to an international consortium of scientists, Frank Schnorrer, Stefan Raunser, Dirk Görlich and Mathias Gautel.