Emeritus Professor Angela Dulhunty
The Muscle Research Group is investigating several aspects of skeletal and cardiac muscle physiology related to the ryanodine receptor calcium release channel, its activation during excitation-contraction coupling and its regulation by associated proteins in health and in skeletal and cardiac myopathies. These myopathies are linked to mutations in the ryanodine receptor or its associated proteins that cause malignant hyperthermia, central core disease and myotonic dystrophy in skeletal muscle or cause arrhythmias in the heart that can lead to sudden death. In addition we are exploring age-related changes in the ryanodine receptor protein complex that contribute to muscle weakness in sarcopaenia. Our present focus in all aspects is on two important protein-protein interactions. The first is between the surface membrane dihydropyridine receptor and ryanodine receptor that enables excitation-contraction coupling in skeletal muscle. The second is the regulation of both skeletal and cardiac ryanodine receptors by proteins that bind to it within lumen of the sarcoplasmic reticulum and dictate the way the ion channel responds to the load of Ca2+ within the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ store. There are opportunities for PhD studies in each of these areas. Some background in electrophysiology, molecular biology and/or biochemistry would be beneficial.