Sarcoplasmic reticulum-mitochondrial functional interactions in skeletal muscle with human exercise or RyR mutations

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Associate Professor Bradley Launikonisb.launikonis@uq.edu.au

This is a fundamental biological project about how muscle can adapt to stressful changes in its use. That is, when muscle use is changed through acute, repeated, high intensity contractions, the muscle remodels itself within a day or so to be able to cope with similar, repeated challenges. The changes inside the muscle after intense, acute contractions affect the way the muscle produces its own energy. It is not understood how the muscle changes so quickly after a single session of intense, acute contractions. It is important to understand energy regulating mechanisms in muscle, as these processes: (i) affect muscle performance, relevant to exercise; and (ii) will apply to almost all cells in the body and therefore will benefit many areas of biological research. Furthermore, as the performance of the muscle is improved following the acute, intense contractions, so is the quality of the muscle. There is economic gain to be had from understanding how to improve muscle (meat) quality. This project expects to find potential ways to apply its findings in agricultural settings to improve livestock's meat quality.

Muscle in the body of animals and human has the ability to adapt to stress placed on it, to improve performance. This allows new physical tasks that have been unfamiliar to become easier. One form of stress on the muscle is the demand to work longer without fatigue. This can be important for animal survival or athletes training for sport. A single session of intense muscle contractions can lead to the muscle increasing its capacity for endurance within 24 hrs. This project aims to examine this phenomenon in animals and human to decipher the mechanism involved in the beneficial muscle changes experienced in such a brief time. The approaches used will include the use of advantaged calcium inaging techniques on the confocal microscope with human muscle fibres obtained from needle biopsies and muslce fibres from genetically modified mice. The latest techniques to assay sarcoplasmic reticulum and mitochondrial calcium content, developed in the host lab, will be used in the project.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of muscle physiology and imaging/microscopy would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of physiology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of biological or biomedical sciences is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 3, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

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