Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Twenty-year quest ends as scientists pin down structure of elusive, heart-protective protein

Date:
July 17, 2012
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Summary:
It is a cellular component so scarce, some scientists even doubted its existence, and many others gave up searching for its molecular structure. Now scientists have defined the protein structural composition of mitoKATP, a potassium channel in the mitochondria of the heart and other organs that is known to protect against tissue damage due to a heart attack or stroke. Importantly, the newly found channel strongly improves heart cell survival, demonstrating an essential life-saving role.

It is a cellular component so scarce, some scientists even doubted its existence, and many others gave up searching for its molecular structure. Now a team led by researchers at Johns Hopkins has defined the protein structural composition of mitoKATP, a potassium channel in the mitochondria of the heart and other organs that is known to protect against tissue damage due to a heart attack or stroke. Importantly, the newly found channel strongly improves heart cell survival, demonstrating an essential life-saving role.

In a report to be published in the journal Circulation Research online July 17, the O'Rourke group and colleagues from Portland State University in Oregon describe their successful efforts to pinpoint and identify mitoKATP, which is an opening, or "pore," responsible for potassium uptake into mitochondria, the powerhouses of the heart cell. This particular potassium channel is a key player in the heart's intrinsic 4ability to protect itself from a loss of blood flow, speeding recovery from heart attacks and preventing cell death and scar tissue formation. Unexpectedly, the protein structure of mitoKATP matched that of another, much more plentiful and well-known potassium channel in the kidney, called ROMK.

Senior study investigator Brian O'Rourke, Ph.D., professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Heart and Vascular Institute and director of the Bernard Laboratory of Fundamental Research in Preventive Cardiology, says the team's discovery solves a 20-year mystery among cardiologists, physiologists and protein biochemists. Although there was abundant evidence that enhancing the ability of the mitochondria to take up potassium ions strongly protects against myocardial infarction, the channel behind this protective effect had escaped detection.

Noting that other scientists had failed to pin down mitoKATP among other known heart potassium channels and mitochondrial proteins, the Hopkins team broadened the search for new, presumably unknown heart mitochondrial proteins. Using cow hearts, chosen because their large size offered more mitochondrial starting material, lead author and protein biochemist, D. Brian Foster, Ph.D., used mass spectrometry to identify 20 million peptide signatures that yielded over 900 potential mitochondrial proteins -- only one of which stood out as a tantalizing candidate for mitoKATP. Surprisingly, this candidate, ROMK, was a channel known to be found in the kidney, but had never been previously detected in mitochondria.

Foster and study co-lead investigator, Alice S. Ho, a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering at Hopkins, then set up a series of experiments to determine if the mitochondrial version of ROMK (mitoROMK) was indeed a key component of mitoKATP and had similar heart protective qualities. Using cultured heart-derived cells, she showed that ROMK is localized to mitochondria. Next, Ho perfected an assay for mitoROMK activity, by monitoring mitochondrial uptake of thallium, which has a similar size and electrical charge as potassium. In cells in which mitoROMK was depleted, thallium uptake was decreased by more than 70 percent.

Additional supporting evidence came from experiments using Tertiapin Q, a honeybee toxin known to block ROMK. Co-investigator Keith Garlid, M.D., and his research team in Oregon, employing a classic assay for mitoKATP, showed that treating mitochondria with Tertiapin Q potently inhibited potassium-dependent mitochondrial swelling. The honeybee toxin also inhibited mitoKATP activity using the thallium assay.

A final set of experiments demonstrated mitoROMK's protective effects in cells; increasing mitoROMK levels led to increased rat heart cell survival and less damage after exposure to increasing amounts of tert-butyl hydroperoxide, an oxidizing chemical that mimics heart attack damage. Moreover, heart cells with depleted mitoROMK levels had a higher death rate with the same treatment.

O'Rourke says this study provides the first molecular key to unlocking the pore structure of the cardioprotective mitoKATP channel. More work will be required to fully understand the role of mitoROMK in protecting against cell injury and death in intact animals and humans during heart disease. However, since mitoROMK is expressed in organs such as the brain and liver too, the work uncovers a new avenue for therapies targeting mitochondria and opens the door for discovering more potent and specific drugs that activate mitoKATP.

Funding for the study was provided by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, specifically corresponding grant numbers P01-HL081427, R01-HL108917 and P01-HL36573.

In addition to O'Rourke, Foster and Ho, other researchers involved in this study were Jasma Rucker, B.Sc., and Ling Chen, M.S., all at Johns Hopkins; and Anders Garlid, B.Sc.; Agnieszka Sidor, Ph.D.; and Keith Garlid, M.D., Ph.D., all at Portland State University, in Oregon.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. Brian Foster, Alice S. Ho, Jasma Rucker, Anders O. Garlid, Ling Chen, Agnieszka Sidor, Keith D. Garlid, and Brian O'Rourke. The Mitochondrial ROMK Channel is a Molecular Component of MitoKATP. Circulation Research, 2012 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.112.266445

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Twenty-year quest ends as scientists pin down structure of elusive, heart-protective protein." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120717162055.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2012, July 17). Twenty-year quest ends as scientists pin down structure of elusive, heart-protective protein. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120717162055.htm
Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Twenty-year quest ends as scientists pin down structure of elusive, heart-protective protein." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120717162055.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) New findings suggest men with a certain type of baldness at age 45 are 39 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. 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