Head of the Research Group

Dr. Frank Schnorrer
Dr. Frank Schnorrer

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How is muscle built?

Research Group "Muscle Dynamics" (Frank Schnorrer)

The fruit fly is able to demonstrate different behaviors: crawl as a larva, slip out of a pupa, run, mate, eat and, first of all, fly. This is possible because of a complex network of muscles, tendons and the exterior skeleton. Frank Schnorrer and his Research Group “Muscle Dynamics” investigate how the muscles of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster develop at the right place in the body and how they grow to their correct size. The development of different muscle cells, shown in different colors on the picture (Flight muscles in blue, muscles of the leg in green and the colon muscles in red), is regulated via a genetic program. Therefore the scientists use targeted gene modifications and imaging procedures, with which they can study muscle dynamics in time lapse: First, the precursors of muscle fibers (myoblasts) are built, which then fuse to form so-called myotubes. The myotubes migrate to their target site and bind there with cells of the tendons to become the external skeleton. By performing more than 25,000 flight tests, the scientists identified around 2,000 genes that have a function in fly muscles. Many of the identified genes are supposedly also needed for normal muscle function in humans.

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