Dr. Maughan's laboratory uses recombinant DNA technology and advanced engineering techniques to study the relationship between structure and function of muscle proteins. Two model systems, fruit flies and mice, are used to complement fundamental work on human cardiac muscle. The experimental systems include: 1) Insect flight muscle. This work, uses site-directed mutagenesis and in vivo transformation of genes encoding muscle proteins in Drosophila. The lab characterizes the entire flight system via measurements of flight ability, wing kinematics, and contractile function of isolated flight muscle cells. Advanced mechanical, electrical, and biochemical engineering techniques are used. They are currently developing new molecular approaches based on atomic force microscopy and specialized micro-tools. 2) Mouse heart muscle. Using recombinant DNA technology, Dr. Maughan's collaborators (primarily the Seidman lab at Harvard University) engineer mutations similar to those found in inherited heart diseases in humans. He then studies how sarcomere function is altered by single amino acid substitutions, and how the altered function affects ventricular performance. 3) Human heart muscle. The regulation and generation of force in isolated strips are studied as part of a concerted effort to characterize the basic contractile properties of normal and diseased human hearts. Diseases currently being studied include coronary artery disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, diabetes, and mitral regurgitation. Muscle biopsies are obtained voluntarily from patients participating in the study. Cardiologists at the University of Vermont also collaborate in this work. The laboratory is equipped to train graduate students and postdocs in the basic principles of muscle biophysics and in their application to clinically important disease states.