Researchers have identified two proteins that play fundamental roles in heart size and function and have genetically uncoupled them, a discovery the scientists hope will lead to better treatments for those with cardiovascular disease. "We initially had a hint that the protein called PTEN controls cell size," says Josef Penninger, professor of medical biophysics and immunology at the University of Toronto, and lead author of a paper in the Sept. 20 issue of Cell. "We knew that cardiovascular disease triggers increased heart size and eventually heart failure so we set out to figure out if PTEN also has a function in the heart. We found that PTEN is absolutely critical to how large our hearts become. But to find out that it also plays a major part in controlling heart muscle pumping and function was completely novel and unexpected."
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