Samantha Harris
Associate Professor, BIO5 Institute
Associate Professor, Physiological Sciences - GIDP
Co-Chair, ABBS Program
Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 621-0291
Work Summary
The long-term goal of research in my lab is to understand the molecular mechanisms of muscle contraction. I am especially interested in how contractile proteins of muscle sarcomeres regulate the force and speed of contraction in the heart. The question is important from both basic science and clinical perspectives because mutations in sarcomere proteins of muscle are a leading cause of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in the young and a prevalent cause of heart failure in adults. Myosin binding protein-C (MyBP-C) is a muscle regulatory protein that speeds actomyosin cycling kinetics in response to adrenaline (b-adrenergic stimuli) and is one of the two most commonly affected proteins linked to HCM. Currently, the major research focus in my lab is understanding the mechanisms by which cMyBP-C regulates contractile speed and mechanisms by which mutations in cMyBP-C cause disease.
Research Interest
The long-term goal of research in my lab is to understand the molecular mechanisms of muscle contraction. I am especially interested in how contractile proteins of muscle sarcomeres regulate the force and speed of contraction in the heart. The question is important from both basic science and clinical perspectives because mutations in sarcomere proteins of muscle are a leading cause of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in the young and a prevalent cause of heart failure in adults. Myosin binding protein-C (MyBP-C) is a muscle regulatory protein that speeds actomyosin cycling kinetics in response to adrenaline (b-adrenergic stimuli) and is one of the two most commonly affected proteins linked to HCM. Currently, the major research focus in my lab is understanding the mechanisms by which cMyBP-C regulates contractile speed and mechanisms by which mutations in cMyBP-C cause disease. In pursuing these interests I have established a variety of approaches to investigate muscle contraction at molecular, cellular, and whole animal levels. Methods include single molecule atomic force microscopy (AFM), mechanical force measurements in permeabilized muscle cells, in vitro motility assays, biochemical enzyme and binding assays, immunofluorescent imaging, knockout/transgenic animal models and the development of a natural large animal model of HCM.

Publications

Kolb, J., Li, F., Methawasin, M., Adler, M., Escobar, Y. N., Nedrud, J., Pappas, C. T., Harris, S. P., & Granzier, H. (2016). Thin filament length in the cardiac sarcomere varies with sarcomere length but is independent of titin and nebulin. Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology, 97, 286-94.
BIO5 Collaborators
Hendrikus L Granzier, Samantha Harris

Thin filament length (TFL) is an important determinant of the force-sarcomere length (SL) relation of cardiac muscle. However, the various mechanisms that control TFL are not well understood. Here we tested the previously proposed hypothesis that the actin-binding protein nebulin contributes to TFL regulation in the heart by using a cardiac-specific nebulin cKO mouse model (αMHC Cre Neb cKO). Atrial myocytes were studied because nebulin expression has been reported to be most prominent in this cell type. TFL was measured in right and left atrial myocytes using deconvolution optical microscopy and staining for filamentous actin with phalloidin and for the thin filament pointed-end with an antibody to the capping protein Tropomodulin-1 (Tmod1). Results showed that TFLs in Neb cKO and littermate control mice were not different. Thus, deletion of nebulin in the heart does not alter TFL. However, TFL was found to be ~0.05μm longer in the right than in the left atrium and Tmod1 expression was increased in the right atrium. We also tested the hypothesis that the length of titin's spring region is a factor controlling TFL by studying the Rbm20(ΔRRM) mouse which expresses titins that are ~500kDa (heterozygous mice) and ~1000kDa (homozygous mice) longer than in control mice. Results revealed that TFL was not different in Rbm20(ΔRRM) mice. An unexpected finding in all genotypes studied was that TFL increased as sarcomeres were stretched (~0.1μm per 0.35μm of SL increase). This apparent increase in TFL reached a maximum at a SL of ~3.0μm where TFL was ~1.05μm. The SL dependence of TFL was independent of chemical fixation or the presence of cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C). In summary, we found that in cardiac myocytes TFL varies with SL in a manner that is independent of the size of titin or the presence of nebulin.

van Dijk, S. J., Bezold, K. L., & Harris, S. P. (2014). Earning stripes: myosin binding protein-C interactions with actin. Pflügers Archiv : European journal of physiology, 466(3), 445-50.

Myosin binding protein-C (MyBP-C) was first discovered as an impurity during the purification of myosin from skeletal muscle. However, soon after its discovery, MyBP-C was also shown to bind actin. While the unique functional implications for a protein that could cross-link thick and thin filaments together were immediately recognized, most early research nonetheless focused on interactions of MyBP-C with the thick filament. This was in part because interactions of MyBP-C with the thick filament could adequately explain most (but not all) effects of MyBP-C on actomyosin interactions and in part because the specificity of actin binding was uncertain. However, numerous recent studies have now established that MyBP-C can indeed bind to actin through multiple binding sites, some of which are highly specific. Many of these interactions involve critical regulatory domains of MyBP-C that are also reported to interact with myosin. Here we review current evidence supporting MyBP-C interactions with actin and discuss these findings in terms of their ability to account for the functional effects of MyBP-C. We conclude that the influence of MyBP-C on muscle contraction can be explained equally well by interactions with actin as by interactions with myosin. However, because data showing that MyBP-C binds to either myosin or actin has come almost exclusively from in vitro biochemical studies, the challenge for future studies is to define which binding partner(s) MyBP-C interacts with in vivo.

Karsai, Á., Kellermayer, M. S., & Harris, S. P. (2013). Cross-species mechanical fingerprinting of cardiac myosin binding protein-C. Biophysical journal, 104(11), 2465-75.

Cardiac myosin binding protein-C (cMyBP-C) is a member of the immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily of proteins and consists of 8 Ig- and 3 fibronectin III (FNIII)-like domains along with a unique regulatory sequence referred to as the MyBP-C motif or M-domain. We previously used atomic force microscopy to investigate the mechanical properties of murine cMyBP-C expressed using a baculovirus/insect cell expression system. Here, we investigate whether the mechanical properties of cMyBP-C are conserved across species by using atomic force microscopy to manipulate recombinant human cMyBP-C and native cMyBP-C purified from bovine heart. Force versus extension data obtained in velocity-clamp experiments showed that the mechanical response of the human recombinant protein was remarkably similar to that of the bovine native cMyBP-C. Ig/Fn-like domain unfolding events occurred in a hierarchical fashion across a threefold range of forces starting at relatively low forces of ~50 pN and ending with the unfolding of the highest stability domains at ~180 pN. Force-extension traces were also frequently marked by the appearance of anomalous force drops suggestive of additional mechanical complexity such as structural coupling among domains. Both recombinant and native cMyBP-C exhibited a prominent segment ~100 nm-long that could be stretched by forces

Jia, W., Shaffer, J. F., Harris, S. P., & Leary, J. A. (2010). Identification of novel protein kinase A phosphorylation sites in the M-domain of human and murine cardiac myosin binding protein-C using mass spectrometry analysis. Journal of proteome research, 9(4), 1843-53.

Cardiac myosin binding protein-C (cMyBP-C) is a large multidomain accessory protein bound to myosin thick filaments in striated muscle sarcomeres. It plays an important role in the regulation of muscle contraction, and mutations in the gene encoding cMyBP-C are a common cause of familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young people. (1) The N-terminal domains including the C0, C1, cMyBP-C motif, and C2 domains play a crucial role in maintaining and modulating actomyosin interactions (keeping normal cardiac function) in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. The cMyBP-C motif or "M-domain" is a highly conserved linker domain in the N-terminus of cMyBP-C that contains three to five protein kinase A (PKA) phosphorylation sites, depending on species. For the human isoform, three PKA sites were previously identified (Ser(275), Ser(284), and Ser(304)), while three homologous sites exist in the murine isoform (Ser(273), Ser(282), and Ser(302)). The murine cMyBP-C isoform contains an additional conserved consensus site, Ser(307) that is not present in the human isoform. In this study, we investigated sites of PKA phosphorylation of murine and human cMyBP-C by treating the recombinant protein C0C2 ( approximately 50 KDa, which contains the N-terminal C0, C1, M, and C2 domains) and C1C2 (approximately 35 KDa, contains C1, M, and C2 domains) with PKA and assessing the phosphorylation states using SDS-PAGE with ProQ Diamond staining, and powerful hybrid mass spectrometric analyses. Both high-accuracy bottom-up and measurements of intact proteins mass spectrometric approaches were used to determine the phosphorylation states of C0C2 and C1C2 proteins with or without PKA treatment. Herein, we report for the first time that there are four PKA phosphorylation sites in both murine and human M-domains; both murine Ser(307) and a novel human Ser(311) can be phosphorylated in vitro by PKA. Future studies are needed to investigate the phosphorylation state of murine and human cMyBP-C in vivo.

Belknap, B., Harris, S. P., & White, H. D. (2014). Modulation of thin filament activation of myosin ATP hydrolysis by N-terminal domains of cardiac myosin binding protein-C. Biochemistry, 53(42), 6717-24.

We have used enzyme kinetics to investigate the molecular mechanism by which the N-terminal domains of human and mouse cardiac MyBP-C (C0C1, C1C2, and C0C2) affect the activation of myosin ATP hydrolysis by F-actin and by native porcine thin filaments. N-Terminal domains of cMyBP-C inhibit the activation of myosin-S1 ATPase by F-actin. However, mouse and human C1C2 and C0C2 produce biphasic activating and inhibitory effects on the activation of myosin ATP hydrolysis by native cardiac thin filaments. Low ratios of MyBP-C N-terminal domains to thin filaments activate myosin-S1 ATP hydrolysis, but higher ratios inhibit ATP hydrolysis, as is observed with F-actin alone. These data suggest that low concentrations of C1C2 and C0C2 activate thin filaments by a mechanism similar to that of rigor myosin-S1, whereas higher concentrations inhibit the ATPase rate by competing with myosin-S1-ADP-Pi for binding to actin and thin filaments. In contrast to C0C2 and C1C2, the activating effects of the C0C1 domain are species-dependent: human C0C1 activates actomyosin-S1 ATPase rates, but mouse C0C1 does not produce significant activation or inhibition. Phosphorylation of serine residues in the m-linker between the C1 and C2 domains by protein kinase-A decreases the activation of thin filaments by huC0C2 at pCa > 8 but has little effect on the activation mechanism at pCa = 4. In sarcomeres, the low ratio of cMyBP-C to actin is expected to favor the activating effects of cMyBP-C while minimizing inhibition produced by competition with myosin heads.