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Laboratory of Cardiovascular Cell Biology and Cell Motility

Using multidisciplinary scientific methodologies, the Burnette lab aspires to understand the growth of the human heart on a single cell level. The growth of heart muscle is driven by cardiac myocytes going through cell division (hyperplastic growth) followed by their subsequent enlargement (hypertrophic growth). The physical forces driving both processes are largely produced by myosin II-based contractile machinery. As such, our research explores the sub-cellular mechanisms controlling contractile system-dynamics, physically coupling these systems between cells, tuning of these systems by extracellular forces (e.g., load), and how these systems switch between driving cell proliferation and cell enlargement. For this work, our lab uses multiple model systems including non-muscle cell lines, iPS cell-derived cardiac myocytes and developing zebrafish embryos. A new and exciting adventure in the lab is parlaying the technologies we develop to study cellular phenomena into exploring cardiovascular disease on a single cell level.