Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discovery Of Differences In Heart's Precursor Cells May Advance Treatment Options

Date:
April 17, 2008
Source:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Summary:
Scientists have long thought that the cells that ultimately give rise to the heart all respond to the same cue before turning into the muscle tissue of this vital organ.

Scientists have long thought that the cells that ultimately give rise to the heart all respond to the same cue before turning into the muscle tissue of this vital organ.

But now researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Medicine have shown that not all heart cells are created equal; in response to one signal to differentiate, some will act, while others lie in wait.

The discovery, made in frogs, or Xenopus, may lead to advances in understanding -- and ultimately treating -- congenital heart disease and heart attacks.

"This is profoundly important work," said Cam Patterson, M.D., professor of medicine, chair of cardiology and director of the Carolina Cardiovascular Biology Center. "Not only does it tell us about how stem cells differentiate to create the heart, but it provides us with knowledge that may very well help us to repair heart muscle after a heart attack."

To investigate the development of the heart, the researchers focused on a gene -- called CASTOR -- that has been implicated in stem cell differentiation in the fruit fly. Here, they manipulated the gene in a different organism -- frogs.

"The study of the heart has its longest history in frogs. In fact, most of what we know about heart development has been learned in frogs," said Frank Conlon, Ph.D., assistant professor of genetics in the UNC School of Medicine and senior author of the study.

First, Conlon and colleagues used small strings of nucleotides, or oligonucleotides, to mask the portions of genetic material that call for the assembly of the CASTOR protein in frogs. Once CASTOR was depleted in the frog embryos, the scientists watched to see how the heart would develop.

What they discovered was contrary to all previous notions of heart development. Instead of all the cells differentiating in harmony, a small subset of cells at the base of the heart remained in a state of infancy. When the researchers mapped the fate of these infant cells, or progenitors, they found that they normally would have given rise to the outer walls of ventricles of the adult heart.

This finding has ramifications for the use of progenitor cells for therapy, in which cells would be transplanted into the area of the organ injured by a heart attack in order to create healthy tissue. The problem is that the idea, while still theoretical, is based on all progenitors being the same.

"What we have found is that this belief simply isn't true," Conlon said. "Instead, there appear to be at least two types of progenitors, and we think there may be many more."

In order to identify which subsets of cells would be the most appropriate for treating a heart attack, scientists must figure out just how many different types of heart cell progenitors exist in the first place. Conlon is trying to do just that, by manipulating other genes in addition to CASTOR. He also hopes to verify his findings in an intermediary organism, such as a mouse model, before searching for genetic counterparts in humans.

The study appears April 14 in the online issue of the journal Developmental Cell. It will be published in the print edition of the journal April 15. The lead author of the study was Kathleen S. Christine, a graduate student in Conlon's laboratory at UNC.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Discovery Of Differences In Heart's Precursor Cells May Advance Treatment Options." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414145708.htm>.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (2008, April 17). Discovery Of Differences In Heart's Precursor Cells May Advance Treatment Options. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414145708.htm
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Discovery Of Differences In Heart's Precursor Cells May Advance Treatment Options." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414145708.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins