The Bennett Group
The Bennett group aims to understand the function and organisation of the membrane-associated cytoskeleton in cardiomyocytes and to define the structural and protein changes which lead to heart disease.
The spectrin-associated cytoskeleton is ubiquitous in all cell types. Underlying the membrane, it is instrumental in organising and maintaining the cell shape. It also has a significant role in corralling and grouping other membrane proteins such as ion transporters.
In the heart, the muscle cells have a unique morphology and arrangement which reflects their interdependent mechanical and signalling functions. Changes in this morphology occur in some cardiomyopathies.
Using immunological techniques and electron tomography we aim to locate our proteins of interest and determine how they relate to the three dimensional organisation of the cell. In this way we hope to identify structural changes that lead to disease.
In this work we are collaborating with groups at Imperial College, the University of Kent and UniversitätsSpital Zürich. In addition, colleagues within the College with a wide range of interests from heart disease to imaging techniques substantially contribute to our research.
This research is supported by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
The late Dr Jeni Fordham, with her extensive experience of the spectrin cytoskeleton in the red blood cell, instigated this project. In addition, it is supported by 50 years of muscle research at King’s.