New mechanism of force transduction in muscle cells discovered

December 18, 2020

The ability of cells to sense and respond to their mechanical environment is critical for many cellular processes but the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular mechanosensitivity are still unclear. Researchers at the University of Münster have now discovered how the muscle-specific adhesion molecule metavinculin modulates mechanical force transduction on the molecular level. The research results have just been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Background and methodology

The interaction of cells with their environment is mediated by specialized adhesion structures, which transduce mechanical forces inwards and out of cells. As cellular adhesions consist of hundreds of different proteins, it is still unclear how the mechanical information is transmitted on the molecular level. To study these processes in more detail, the Grashoff laboratory at the WWU Münster develops biosensors that allow the detection of piconewton-scale forces propagated across individual molecules in cells. In their most recent study, the authors applied their microscopy-based technique to the adhesion protein metavinculin, which is expressed in muscle cells and associated with cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease.

By analyzing a range of genetically modified cells, the authors demonstrate that the presence of metavinculin changes how mechanical forces are transduced in cell adhesion complexes. "Our data indicate that metavinculin could function as a molecular dampener, helping to resist high peak forces observed in muscle tissues", explains Prof. Dr. Carsten Grashoff, principal investigator of the study. "This is a very interesting example of how the presence of a single protein can change the way mechanical information is processed in cells."

Surprisingly, the authors did not observe any indications of cardiomyopathy in mice lacking metavinculin. This suggests that the pathophysiological role of metavinculin is more complex than previously assumed.
-end-


University of Münster

Related Muscle Articles from Brightsurf:

Muscle aging: Stronger for longer
With life expectancy increasing, age-related diseases are also on the rise, including sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass due to aging.

Duchenne: "Crosstalk" between muscle and spleen
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common muscle disease in children and is passed on by X-linked recessive inheritance.

Fantastic muscle proteins and where to find them
Setting out to identify all proteins that make up the sarcomere, the basic contractile unit of muscle cells, resulted in an unexpected revelation, providing experimental evidence that helps explain a fundamental mystery about how muscles work.

Strong change of course for muscle research
Scientists have discovered a new subtype of muscle stem cells.

Electronics integrated to the muscle via 'Kirigami'
A research team in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Information Engineering and the Electronics-Inspired Interdisciplinary Research Institute (EIIRIS) at Toyohashi University of Technology has developed a donut-shaped kirigami device for electromyography (EMG) recordings.

Link between gut microbes & muscle growth suggests future approach to tackle muscle loss
Scientists led by NTU Singapore's Professor Sven Pettersson established a link between gut microbes and muscle growth and function -- a finding that could open new doors to interventions for age-related skeletal muscle loss.

What is known -- and not known -- about heart muscle diseases in children
Cardiomyopathies (heart muscle diseases) in children are the focus of a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association that provides insight into the diagnosis and treatment of the diseases as well as identifying future research priorities.

Chloride-channel in muscle cells provides new insights for muscle diseases
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have mapped the structure of an important channel in human muscle cells.

How do muscle and tendon connections last a lifetime?
Muscles are connected to tendons to power animal movements such as running, swimming or flying.

Oscillation in muscle tissue
When a muscle grows or a muscle injury heals, some of the stem cells develop into new muscle cells.

Read More: Muscle News and Muscle Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.