idw – Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Nachrichten, Termine, Experten

Grafik: idw-Logo
idw-Abo
Medienpartner:
Wissenschaftsjahr


Share on: 
04/04/2019 11:23

How do muscle and tendon connections last a lifetime? Study in the fruit fly Drosophila

Svenja Ronge Presse- und Informationsstelle
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

    Muscles are connected to tendons to power animal movements such as running, swimming or flying. During development, these muscle-tendon attachments must be established such that they resist high mechanical forces for the entire life of the animal. An international research team from Marseille (France), Münster and Munich (both Germany) shows now in fruit flys how a protein controls mechanical stress on muscle-tendon connections. The study has been published in the journal "PLOS Biology".

    Muscles are connected to tendons to power animal movements such as running, swimming or flying. Forces are produced by contractile chains of the proteins actin and myosin, which are pulling on muscle-tendon connections called attachments. During animal development, these muscle-tendon attachments must be established such that they resist high mechanical forces for the entire life of the animal. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Marseille (France), Munich and Münster (both Germany) has now been able to quantify the mechanical forces transmitted by a key attachment protein called Talin.

    The researchers used the flight muscles of the fruit fly Drosophila for these molecular force measurements and found that a surprisingly small proportion of Talin molecules experiences detectable forces at developing muscle-tendon attachments. They also found that muscles deal with the increasing tissue forces by recruiting a high number of Talin molecules to attachments. This way, many Talin molecules can dynamically share the high peak forces produced during muscle contractions, for example while flying. “This mechanical adaptation concept ensures that muscle-tendon connections can last for life”, says Sandra Lemke, a PhD student in biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry who carried out most of the experiments. The study was led by Dr. Frank Schnorrer from the Developmental Biology Institute at Aix-Marseille University and Prof. Dr. Carsten Grashoff at the University of Münster. These new results have been published in the journal "PLOS Biology".

    Background and method:

    Integrin-based adhesions are important force sensing structures of animal cells to feel and resist mechanical forces. Integrin receptors are an important component of such structures sitting at the cell surface probing the environment outside the cell and binding to one end of Talin inside the cell. The other end of Talin binds to the contractile actin-myosin cytoskeleton, so Talin is in the perfect location to process molecular forces. The researchers therefore inserted a fluorescent force sensor into the protein talin in order to investigate molecular forces using microscopy methods.

    Earlier studies by the research group headed by Carsten Grashoff at the Institute for Molecular Cell Biology at Münster University had already shown that 70 percent of all Talin molecules are exposed to high forces in so called focal adhesions, when cells are placed on hard plastic or glass substrates in the laboratory. Therefore, the results of this new study are very surprising: Less than 15 percent of the Talin molecules “felt” measurable forces at developing muscle attachments in an intact organism. It is important to know that a muscle connected to tendon cells is in a much softer environment as compared to cells in a hard plastic dish in the laboratory. Yet, developing muscles must anticipate high forces generated during muscle contractions in the future in the adult fly. To prepare for that, muscles recruit many Talin and Integrin molecules in their cell adhesions.

    The scientists reduced the number of talin molecules present in the flight muscles of fruit flies using molecular genetic methods. The flies were still able to survive after the intervention, but their muscle-tendon connections ruptured during the first flight attempts, so the flies were no longer able to fly. These results demonstrate that connections between cells must dynamically adapt to the needs of each tissue to ensure lifelong function. In the future, it will be exciting to explore how mechanical signals achieve the recruitment of the correct number of molecules to the appropriate location in the cells.


    Contact for scientific information:

    Prof. Carsten Grashoff
    University of Münster
    Institute of Molecular Cell Biology
    Tel: +49 251 83-23920
    grashoff@uni-muenster.de


    Original publication:

    S. Lemke et al. (2019): A small proportion of Talin molecules transmit forces at developing muscle attachments in vivo. PLOS Biology; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000057


    More information:

    https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000057 Original publication in PLOS Biology


    Criteria of this press release:
    Journalists
    Biology
    transregional, national
    Research results
    English


    Lengthwise cut through the thorax of a fruit fly having an inserted force sensor in the talin protein. The force sensor on the muscle-tendon connections is green and the flight muscles magenta.


    For download

    x

    Help

    Search / advanced search of the idw archives
    Combination of search terms

    You can combine search terms with and, or and/or not, e.g. Philo not logy.

    Brackets

    You can use brackets to separate combinations from each other, e.g. (Philo not logy) or (Psycho and logy).

    Phrases

    Coherent groups of words will be located as complete phrases if you put them into quotation marks, e.g. “Federal Republic of Germany”.

    Selection criteria

    You can also use the advanced search without entering search terms. It will then follow the criteria you have selected (e.g. country or subject area).

    If you have not selected any criteria in a given category, the entire category will be searched (e.g. all subject areas or all countries).

    Cookies optimize the use of our services. By surfing on idw-online.de you agree to the use of cookies. Data Confidentiality Statement
    Okay