Mary Baylies, professor in the program of developmental biology at Sloan-Kettering Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, was awarded an MDA research grant totaling $399,269 over three years to study LMNA gene mutations and the role of a protein called esconsin in Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD).
EDMD can result from mutations in the lamin A/C (LMNA) gene, which carries instructions for the lamin A and lamin C proteins. But how mutations in LMNA cause muscle disease is unclear, Baylies explains.
In previous work, Baylies and colleagues have shown that lamin C interacts with ensconsin, which plays a key role in muscle development.
Now, Baylies is working to determine the nature of the interaction of the two proteins and how they regulate muscle function, with the goal of providing new insight into the cellular processes required for optimal muscle function and for different muscle diseases.
Studies are being conducted in a drosophila (fruit fly) research model, which Baylies says is "particularly well-suited to rapidly finding processes critical for muscle function, due to similarities with mammalian systems at both the genetic and cellular levels." In the model, using time-lapse imaging, Baylies' team gets "an unparalleled view" of cellular processes required for both the development and maintenance of muscle.
“This is an exciting period in muscle biology,” Baylies says. “Imaging approaches continue to evolve and allow us to ‘see’ muscle structure like never before.”
Funding for this MDA grant began Aug. 1, 2012.