We want to find out how the cytoarchitecture of heart cells is put together during embryonic development, how it is changed in heart disease and which signalling molecules play a role in this process. One of the main focus areas in the lab is confocal imaging.
From heart tissue...
Confocal micrograph of immunostained embryonic heart tissue
Embryonic heart tissue, where the myofibrils are stained in green, the microtubules are stained in red and the nuclei are stained in blue. Two dividing cardiomyocytes can be seen in the top right hand corner of the image, where the myofibrils have been disassembled.
...to freshly isolated heart cells...
Confocal micrograph of immunostained freshly isolated heart cell
Freshly isolated adult heart cell showing the typical rod-like shape and the extremely ordered cytoskeleton, nuclei are shown in blue and cross-striated myofibrils in green (MyBP-C) and red (alpha-actinin).
...to heart cells in culture...
Confocal micrograph of heart cells in culture
Heart cells in culture retain their regular cytoskeleton to a certain extent and continue to beat. The actin cytoskeleton was stained in red, the myofibrils in green (MyBP-C) and blue (sarcomeric myosin heavy chain).
...to the diseased heart!
Confocal micrograph of immunostained tissue from a dilated cardiomyopathy
The intercalated discs (specialised type of cell contacts) are altered in their composition and ultrastructure in dilated cardiomyopathy (i.e. a ballooned heart), while the myofibrils appear unchanged (intercalated discs shown in green, myofibrils shown in red).