Samantha Harris

Samantha Harris

Co-Chair, ABBS Program
Member of the Graduate Faculty
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Professor, Physiological Sciences - GIDP
Professor, Physiology
Primary Department
Contact
(520) 621-0291

Work Summary

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

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.

Li, R. H., Stern, J. A., Ho, V., Tablin, F., & Harris, S. P. (2016). Platelet Activation and Clopidogrel Effects on ADP-Induced Platelet Activation in Cats with or without the A31P Mutation in MYBPC3. Journal of veterinary internal medicine, 30(5), 1619-1629.

Clopidogrel is commonly prescribed to cats with perceived increased risk of thromboembolic events, but little information exists regarding its antiplatelet effects.

Kensler, R. W., Shaffer, J. F., & Harris, S. P. (2011). Binding of the N-terminal fragment C0-C2 of cardiac MyBP-C to cardiac F-actin. Journal of structural biology, 174(1), 44-51.

Cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C), a major accessory protein of cardiac thick filaments, is thought to play a key role in the regulation of myocardial contraction. Although current models for the function of the protein focus on its binding to myosin S2, other evidence suggests that it may also bind to F-actin. We have previously shown that the N-terminal fragment C0-C2 of cardiac myosin-binding protein-C (cMyBP-C) bundles actin, providing evidence for interaction of cMyBP-C and actin. In this paper we directly examined the interaction between C0-C2 and F-actin at physiological ionic strength and pH by negative staining and electron microscopy. We incubated C0-C2 (5-30μM, in a buffer containing in mM: 180 KCl, 1 MgCl(2), 1 EDTA, 1 DTT, 20 imidazole, at pH 7.4) with F-actin (5μM) for 30min and examined negatively-stained samples of the solution by electron microscopy (EM). Examination of EM images revealed that C0-C2 bound to F-actin to form long helically-ordered complexes. Fourier transforms indicated that C0-C2 binds with the helical periodicity of actin with strong 1st and 6th layer lines. The results provide direct evidence that the N-terminus of cMyBP-C can bind to F-actin in a periodic complex. This interaction of cMyBP-C with F-actin supports the possibility that binding of cMyBP-C to F-actin may play a role in the regulation of cardiac contraction.

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