Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Muscle Growth in the Computer: International Team Wants to Unravel the Formation of Myofibrils

13.06.2018

cfaed Group Leader (TU Dresden), together with two other international scientists, acquires "Human Frontier Science Program" funding for investigation of myofibrils

How the bicep tenses is no longer a secret. In every muscle cell there are so-called myofibrils, which contract at the same time. They are responsible for muscle movement. Each of these fibrils represents an exact pattern of hundreds of identical units consisting of different protein molecules. However, it is not yet understood how these individual building blocks arrange themselves into highly regular patterns during embryonic development or healing processes. An interdisciplinary team involving the physicist Dr. Benjamin Friedrich (Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden - cfaed, TU Dresden) has now acquired a research contract from the "Human Frontier Science Program" to investigate this question.


Dr. Benjamin Friedrich, Research Group Leader Biological Algorithms Group

Katharina Knaut

Any arbitrary movement, any turning of the head or lifting of an arm requires the coordinated contraction of muscles. The contraction of a muscle is driven by myofibrils contracting in each individual muscle cell simultaneously. If the function of these microscopic myofibrils is disturbed, it leads to serious diseases such as muscle weakness. Despite the medical significance of myofibrils, it is not yet understood how these complicated power machines are assembled in the body. Biologists and physicians were able to identify the individual building blocks that make up each myofibril (including the largest protein molecules in the world) and how they are arranged in the finished myofibril. In mature myofibrils, a scaffold of elastic biofilaments alternates with so-called molecular motors that convert chemical energy into mechanical work. This arrangement is as regular as in a crystal and enables large forces to be generated effectively and quickly.

However, how the individual building blocks of myofibrils arrange themselves into such highly regular patterns during embryonic development or during healing processes (e.g. after sports injuries) is still a matter of controversy in science. In order to uncover this secret, cooperation between different scientific disciplines is required. An interdisciplinary team led by biologist Frank Schnorrer (Developmental Biology Institute of Marseille - IBDM), the physician Olivier Pourquie (Harvard Medical School) and the physicist Benjamin Friedrich (Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden - cfaed, TU Dresden) has now been awarded a research grant by the international "Human Frontier Science Program" to investigate this question. The grant has a volume of over one million US dollars and a term of three years.

Frank Schnorrer's group will use high-resolution video microscopy to follow the individual stages of pattern formation in the fruit fly model organism. The flies are genetically modified so that individual molecules can be made visible or turned off. The researchers also hope to use novel biomolecules that light up when they are subjected to mechanical stress and thus enable the precise measurement of minute forces. For the first time, it is now possible to investigate how the formation of regular structures and the generation of mechanical forces go hand in hand during the self-assembly of myofibrils.
Oliver Pourquie's team uses human stem cells that are differentiated into muscle cells in the Petri dish. This enables to test the findings obtained from fruit flies directly on mammalian cells without the need for animal experiments.

In order to evaluate the data obtained in this way, novel image processing and analysis algorithms are necessary, which are being developed in the group of Benjamin Friedrich. Physical concepts from the physics of soft condensed matter (e.g. order states of liquid crystals such as those found in LCD screens) play an important role. Based on the biological data, computer models will be developed that map different variants for the pattern formation process of myofibrils. These simulations can be used to make predictions that are then re-tested in experiments. These new findings are implemented into the computer models again, so that a comprehensive understanding of the physical mechanisms of spontaneous assembly of the myofibrils can be obtained step by step.

About Dr. Benjamin Friedrich
The Dresden-based project partner Benjamin Friedrich is research group leader in the “Cluster of Excellence” cfaed at TU Dresden. Among other things, he investigates the question of how biomolecules spontaneously assemble into functional structures and how these processes function robustly even in the event of disturbances and fluctuations. Of particular interest is the transfer of biological principles to engineering problems, such as the self-organised dynamics of stochastic components. Conversely, dealing with technical applications gives a completely new view of the fundamental biological question of how biological systems function reliably, despite various interferences. Here, Dresden is an ideal location for interdisciplinary research with the University of Excellence TU Dresden with the Cluster of Excellence cfaed, but also the proposed Cluster of Excellence "Physics of Life", and the many partner institutes, such as the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, or the Biotechnology Centre.
Biological Algorithms Group: https://cfaed.tu-dresden.de/friedrich-home

Press Images
Image 1 HiRes Download: https://bit.ly/2kTDhGI
Image 2 HiRes Download: https://bit.ly/2xOyaRv
Image Caption: Myofibrils under the microscope. The highly regular structure with a periodic pattern of actin biopolymers (red), molecular motors (green) and compound proteins (blue) is clearly visible. When activated, each of the periodic structures contracts due to the force of the molecular motors.

Image 3 HiRes Download: https://bit.ly/2JznEyV
Image 4 HiRes Download: https://bit.ly/2l1doEV
Caption: Dr. Benjamin Friedrich, Research Group Leader Biological Algorithms Group. Photo: Katharina Knaut

Media inquiries:
Dr. Benjamin Friedrich
TU Dresden, cfaed Research Group Leader Biological Algorithms
Tel.: +49 (0) 351 463-42341
Email: benjamin.m.friedrich@tu-dresden.de

Matthias Hahndorf
cfaed, Head of Communications
Tel.: +49 (0) 351 463-42847
Email: matthias.hahndorf@tu-dresden.de

About cfaed - Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden
cfaed is a “Cluster of Excellence” within the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments. The interdisciplinary research center for advancing electronics is based as a Central Academic Unit at TU Dresden, and also integrates TU Chemnitz as well as nine non-university research institutions in Saxony as participating institutions. The Cluster brings together 300 scientists from around 30 nations. It is engaged in the development of completely new solutions for the transmission and processing of information. With its vision, the Cluster aims to shape the future of electronics and initiate revolutionary new applications, such as electronics featuring zero-boot time that are capable of THz imaging, or support complex biosensors. In order to achieve its goals, cfaed combines the thirst for knowledge of the natural sciences with the innovative power of the engineering sciences. Novel materials such as 2D materials, silicon nanowires, carbon nanotubes or polymers as well as completely new concepts such as self-assembling structures from DNA originals are investigated. The DFG-funded Cluster is in its first funding period, which runs from 2012 to 2018. A proposal for a further seven-years funding period has been submitted.

www.cfaed.tu-dresden.de 

Kim-Astrid Magister | Technische Universität Dresden

More articles from Awards Funding:

nachricht Success at leading conference on silicon materials science and technology in Japan
13.12.2018 | IHP - Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik

nachricht Ultrasound Connects
13.11.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Awards Funding >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>