Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology

Muscle, Regeneration, Ageing and Dystrophies

Further Information

Contact a supervisor for detailed information on student research projects

 Professor Miranda Grounds
Professor Miranda Grounds

Grounds Research Group


;Assoc/Prof Peter Arthur
Dr Peter Arthur (Biochemistry)


Professor Alan Harvey
Professor Alan Harvey

 

The School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology offers a diverse range of student research topics.

The research of the Muscle Group is focused on skeletal muscle research.  Main areas are listed below with several projects outlined. Many projects can be developed with the student, depending on the student’s overall interest in various research topics plus possible preference for different kinds of experimental and analytical techniques (Molecular, histological, microscopy, animals, tissue culture).   

Our background papers to all of this work can be found as PDFs.

The 3 main research areas are:

Growing Muscles

Project outline

Myotubes (multinucleated skeletal muscle cells) are widely used as a convenient model that approximates to a muscle fibre in vivo, yet emerging data indicate that many properties of such immature cells are NOT equivalent to that of a mature, adult myofibre (discussed in Grounds & Shavlakadze, 2011). There are also be important differences between myotubes in culture and even young growing myofibres in vivo, since myofibres (both growing and mature) are innervated, in marked contrast with myotubes in culture. For example, we have shown that only GROWING muscle cells (myotubes, growing muscles and also regenerating muscles) show a signalling response to increased IGF-1. Several projects are proposed to investigate difference related to these growing and mature cells.  One example is shown.

Clarifying the mechanism for impact of factors that increase (hypertrophic) or decrease (atrophic) muscles mass. Recent studies (conducted by Dr Robert White), have shown that the mechanism of action of hypertropic (IGF-1) and atrophic (TNF) factors on cultured myotubes, also involves effects on myoblast proliferation and fusion with the growing myotube: this is in addition to effects on signalling pathways related to protein synthesis and degradation that result in net protein content (paper in progress).  A new project will examine the effects of 2 forms of Vitamin D on these models of cultured C2C12 myogenic cells, primary cultures of muscles cells and isolated myofibres.

Non-coding RNA expression during the different phases of post-natal muscle growth Other studies in our group by PhD student Ms Laurent Butchart have profiled the expression patterns of many RNAs (mRNAs, miRNAs and long non-coding RNAs) throughout the post-natal growth of normal mouse muscles (paper under review).  New projects can extend this approach to studies of muscular dystrophies.

See: Grounds MD and Shavlakadze T. (2011) Impact of growth on properties of sarcolemma of skeletal myofibres: clinical and scientific implications. Bioessays. 33:458-68.

  1. Isolated Myofibres as a model for growth factor responses
  2. Investigating sarcolemma properties of growing and adult myofibres: imaging studies and mechanobiology
  3. The mystery of central myonuclei in regenerated mouse muscles

See recent papers

Project is suitable for

Honours, PhD

Chief supervisor
Prof Miranda Grounds
Other supervisors
Rob White
Essential qualifications

For Honours: An appropriate undergraduate degree with a biological science emphasis, and a minimum weighted average of 65% in the level 3 subjects that comprise the relevant major from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Masters or PhD: An appropriate Honours degree with a biological science emphasis or equivalent research experience from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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Dystrophic Muscles

Project outline

A major focus of our research is developing therapies for muscular dystrophies, using  the mdx mouse (e.g Project 1 below). More recently we have been investigating dysferlinopathies  using dysferlin-deficient A/J and BLAJ mice (Project 2). This research is of central interest to various parent and other international groups.  e.g TreatNMD http://www.treat-nmd.eu/

Project 1. Potential drug treatment for DMD. The aim is optimise the use of taurine to reduce disease severity on the mdx mouse model.  We have much experience in this area and the research is funded by an NHMRC grant.

See recent papers e.g  Terrill JR, Grounds MD, Arthur PG. (2015) Taurine deficiency, synthesis and transport in the mdx mouse model for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology 66:141-148

Plus review by De Luca A, Pierno S, Camerino DC. (2015) Taurine: the appeal of a safe amino acid for skeletal muscle disorders.  J Transl Med. 13:243

This project would be done in close collaborations with Dr Jessica Terrill and Dr Peter Arthur (UWA) who are experts on these studies on dystrophic mdx mice and all associated biochemical analyses, often related to oxidative stress.

Project 2. Lipids and dysferlinopathies. The aim is to define the MECHANISM for the high lipid content and expansion of adipocyte populations in dysferlin-deficient muscles. This is based on novel observations made in our laboratory regarding the reasons for disease in dysferlin-deficient muscles.  

Grounds MD, Radley-Crabb HG, Terrill J, Robertson T, Papadimitriou J, Spuler S, Shavlakadze T. (2014) Lipid accumulation in dysferlin-deficient muscles. American J. Pathology. 184(6):1668-1676.

Tissue culture and mouse experiments are in progress to pursue this new research and these are evolving and can be discussed.
Project is suitable for

Honours, PhD

Chief supervisor
Prof Miranda Grounds
Other supervisors
Dr Peter Arthur, Dr Jessica Terrill, Dr Robert White
Essential qualifications

For Honours: An appropriate undergraduate degree with a biological science emphasis, and a minimum weighted average of 65% in the level 3 subjects that comprise the relevant major from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Masters or PhD: An appropriate Honours degree with a biological science emphasis or equivalent research experience from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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