The Pennsylvania Muscle Institute is an interdisciplinary group of research investigators. Our goal is to discover the the mechanisms of muscle function, muscle disease and motile biological systems through innovative and cross-disciplinary research, and to apply these discoveries to new therapies.
We aim to develop state-of-the art technologies for the study of muscle and motile systems, while providing education and training in muscle biology and motility to scientists, physicians, and students.
Research is conducted using biophysics, biochemistry, genetics, physiology and ultrastructure to understand: cell migration and intracellular transport; molecular motors; cell division; muscle contraction and development; muscle pathologies and therapies targeted to muscle disease.
The PMI is prominent in technological and methodological development for these investigations especially in advanced light microscopy, structural spectroscopy, nanotechnology, biochemical kinetics, image processing, molecular biology, and viral gene targeting.
Optical tweezers microscopes for the measurement of nanometer-scale displacements and picoNewton-scale forces are available to Penn laboratories. These instruments are used for measuring biological forces (e.g., cell adhesion forces, protein-protein interactions, protein conformational changes, and other macromolecular associations) and manipulating objects in vitro and in the cytoplasm of live cells.
The Pennsylvania Muscle Institute contains considerable expertise in interpreting electron and light micrographs from muscle cells, motor proteins and the cytoskeleton. Several muscle and cell motility microscopists have volunteered to provide help to Penn investigators on interpreting their micrographs. Many puzzling aspects of these images are straightforward to interpret with experience.
1) In Vitro Muscle Evaluation: Mechanical evaluation (i.e. contraction time, relaxation time, absolute twitch and tetanic forces, specific twitch and tetanic forces, Force drop after eccentric contractions (ECC), post-ECC dye exclusion studies, fatigue & recovery studies, metabolic studies (i.e. contraction mediated glucose uptake).
2) In Vivo Exercise Evaluation: Rota –Rod performance, Grip Strength, Voluntary exercise (Cages), Treadmill with uphill/downhill exercise studies, Hypoxic exercise tolerance.
3) In Vivo Muscle Evaluation: Electromyograms (EMG), Nerve stimulation evoked muscle contractions for absolute twitch and tetanic forces, specific twitch and tetanic forces, Force drop after eccentric contractions (ECC), repetitive stimulations for myasthenia studies, fatigue & recovery studies. Shivering thermogenesis, muscle and brown fat heat production.
4) In Vivo Respiratory Evaluation: Whole body plethysmography (Respiratory Rate, Tidal Volume, Minute Volume), Hypoxic Ventilatory Response (HVR), Hypercapnic Ventilatory Response (HCVR), Hypoxic exercise tolerance, Phrenic nerve recordings with intercostals wall EMGs.
5) Preparation of post-evaluation muscle / tissues for morphological analyses (for frozen, fixed and EM sections).