New preprint from the Greenberg Lab – Computational tool to study perturbations in muscle regulation and its application to heart disease

Samantha K BarrickSarah R ClippingerLina GreenbergMichael J Greenberg

Striated muscle contraction occurs when myosin thick filaments bind to thin filaments in the sarcomere and generate pulling forces. This process is regulated by calcium, and it can be perturbed by pathological conditions (e.g., myopathies), physiological adaptations (e.g., β-adrenergic stimulation), and pharmacological interventions. Therefore, it is important to have a methodology to robustly determine the mechanism of these perturbations and statistically evaluate their effects. Here, we present an approach to measure the equilibrium constants that govern muscle activation, estimate uncertainty in these parameters, and statistically test the effects of perturbations. We provide a MATLAB-based computational tool for these analyses, along with easy-to-follow tutorials that make this approach accessible. The hypothesis testing and error estimation approaches described here are broadly applicable, and the provided tools work with other types of data, including cellular measurements. To demonstrate the utility of the approach, we apply it to determine the biophysical mechanism of a mutation that causes familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This approach is generally useful for studying the mechanisms of muscle diseases and therapeutic interventions that target muscle contraction.