UC Researchers Identify Protein Involved In Fight Or Flight

Apr 26, 2021

The fight-or-flight response is a reaction to stress triggers that evolved as a survival mechanism for humans and animals. Now, researchers at the University of Cincinnati have identified one of the regulatory proteins that plays a roll in how the fight-or-flight response occurs.

There are fast and slow types of skeletal myosin binding protein-C, a thick filament regulatory protein in striated muscle. The fast skeletal myosin binding protein-C modulates how quickly and forcefully muscles contract. Fast muscle is important for getting away from threats, for example.

"This response is very critical for the higher animal and human survival. Just imagine, you are walking through a forest and suddenly you see a tiger in front of you," says Sakthivel Sadayappan, PhD, a professor in the UC Division of Cardiovascular Health and Disease. "You will immediately act, either to fight or run away from the animal. For that action, fast muscle is essential, and fast myosin binding protein-C is the key molecule to regulate the speed of action."

Understanding that connection can lead to improving muscle function.

"We are going to test whether increasing the fast myosin binding protein-C will improve muscle function or not," he tells WVXU. "That's what we're going to study next."

Ultimately, it could also have implications for preventing or slowing down loss of muscle function caused by aging or genetic muscle diseases or disorders.

The findings from Sadayappan and his colleagues are published in the journal PNAS.