Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Nikki Reinemann

Second Advisor

Thomas Werfel

Third Advisor

Adam Smith

Relational Format



Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a hereditary disease in which the myocardium becomes hypertrophied, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood. HCM is commonly caused by a mutation in the β-cardiac myosin II heavy chain. Myosin is a motor protein that facilitates muscle contraction by converting chemical energy from ATP hydrolysis into mechanical work and concomitantly moving along actin filaments. Optical tweezers have been used previously to analyze single myosin biophysical properties; however, myosin does not work as a single unit within the heart. Multiple myosin interacts to displace actin filaments and do not have the same properties as ensembles versus single molecules. We have engineered a more physiologically accurate optical trapping approach using a hierarchical cytoskeleton structure consisting of multiple myosin between two actin filaments that more closely models how myosin behaves within the heart. The model was verified using fluorescent microscopy, and we analyzed the biophysical properties of healthy myosin-actin complexes to lay the foundation for studying diseased models in the future. For the healthy myosin model, we have measured displacement profiles and force generation capacities using optical tweezers. This assay allows us to not only analyze myosin in a more physiologically relevant environment but also to study how multiple myosin interact within cardiac muscle cells.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.