Muscle Contractility And Neuromuscular Plasticity


Muscle contractile performance needs to be finely regulated to match perfectly the required task in force, speed and timing. Such regulation is achieved 1) on a short time scale by recruiting a pool of muscle fibres suitable for number and for quality (slow or fast, glycolytic or oxidative) and in each fibre controlling the contractile output via regulation of activator calcium, 2) on a long time scale through the adaption(muscle plasticity) to the functional need by changing the muscle size and the distribution of fibre types. Furthermore, fatigue and muscle disease can impair the muscle contractile performance.
The experimental work carried out in the research groups is focused on several aspects of the above outlined functional regulation, in particular:

  • diversity or specialization of skeletal muscle fibres and their molecular basis. The comparative analysis of the paralogs and orthologs of sarcomeric myosin is carried out since several years in the research group.
  • adaptation to changes in activity (training and disuse) and the molecular signaling pathways which mediates such adaptations. Several signaling mechanisms, N-FAT to control fibre type, Akt-mTor as regulator of muscle fibre size, sphyngosin as regulator of muscle regeneration and growth are actively studied
  • control of cytosolic calcium and its alteration in genetic diseases with a specific attention to ryanodine receptors and calsequestrin, their physiological roles and the effects of mutations which alter their structure and function
  • pathogenic mechanisms in muscle dystrophies: not only DMD and its murine model (mdx mice) but also FSHD and its murine model (FRG1 mice)


5 recent publications

  • Blaauw B, Schiaffino S, Reggiani C. Mechanisms modulating skeletal muscle phenotype. Compr Physiol. 2013;3 :1645-87.
  • Schiaffino S, Reggiani C. Fiber types in mammalian skeletal muscles. Physiol Rev. 2011 Oct;91(4):1447-531.
  • Canato M, Scorzeto M, Giacomello M, Protasi F, Reggiani C, Stienen GJ. Massive alterations of sarcoplasmic reticulum free calcium in skeletal muscle fibers lacking calsequestrin revealed by a genetically encoded probe. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2010 Dec 21;107(51):22326-31.
  • Rossi AC, Mammucari C, Argentini C, Reggiani C, Schiaffino S. Two novel/ancient myosins in mammalian skeletal muscles: MYH14 and MYH15 are expressed in extraocular muscles and muscle spindles. J Physiol. 2010 Jan 15;588(Pt 2):353-64.
  • Blaauw B, Canato M, Agatea L, Toniolo L, Mammucari C, Masiero E, Abraham R, Sandri M, Schiaffino S, Reggiani C. Inducible activation of Akt increases skeletal muscle mass and force without satellite cell activation. FASEB J. 2009 Nov;23(11):3896-905.



  • FIRB Giovani
  • Telethon
  • EU via Pangea (Interregio)
  • EU via Myoscreen (FSE)
  • AFM