Control of signalling in the cardiac cell
The heart pumps blood around the body, delivering nutrients to and removing waste products from every organ. Its function is finely tuned to respond to the demands of the body. My research focuses on the mechanisms which control the behaviour of individual cardiac muscle cells in the heart in response to a variety of stimuli. This information can be used to understand the function of the heart in both health and disease.
Caveolae and G-protein coupled receptor signalling
The way that the heart functions in a healthy individual is a result of a balance between the stimulatory sympathetic nervous system and the inhibitory parasympathetic system. These 2 systems work through different receptors (β-adrenoceptors and muscarinic receptors), but many of the components of the downstream signalling pathways are the same. I am interested in how cellular signalling is controlled to allow these receptors to produce such diverse functional responses. One structure that contributes to this is the caveola, which is a small flask shaped pocket in the cell membrane enriched in cholesterol and lined with the protein caveolin (see Figure). Caveolae can concentrate or exclude components of signalling pathways so as to modulate both the efficiency and fidelity of signal transduction. Our recent work shows the first direct evidence for compartmentalisation of β-receptor signalling by caveolae in the adult cardiac myocyte.