Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Key proteins identified responsible for electrical communication in heart

Date:
January 13, 2014
Source:
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers have found that six proteins – five more than previously thought – are responsible for cell-to-cell communication that regulates the heart and plays a role in limiting the size of heart attacks and strokes. The smallest of these proteins directs the largest in performing its role of coordinating billions of heart cells during each heartbeat. Together, the proteins synchronize the beating heart, the researchers determined.

Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute researchers have found that six proteins -- five more than previously thought -- are responsible for cell-to-cell communication that regulates the heart and plays a role in limiting the size of heart attacks and strokes.

The smallest of these proteins directs the largest in performing its role of coordinating billions of heart cells during each heartbeat. Together, the proteins synchronize the beating heart, the researchers determined.

"We now know these proteins exist," said Robin Shaw, MD, PhD, the senior author of the study published in the journal Cell Reports. "The findings advance our understanding of cell-to-cell communication at the root of healthy heart function. When there is less cell communication, which occurs in failing hearts, chances are greater of disturbances in heart rhythm that can result in disability or death."

Until now, scientists had recognized just one protein involved in cell-to-cell communication that occurs through conduits known as "gap junctions." The Cedars-Sinai researchers identified five additional proteins that regulate the rapid flow of electrical communication signals, coordinating heart cells to produce a stable heartbeat.

"The finding of alternative translation start sites within this important group of proteins adds startling diversity to a key biological process, namely that whereby heart cells communicate with each other electrically," said Eduardo Marbαn, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. "The implications are major for arrhythmias and heart failure."

Through a phenomenon called "alternative translation," the protein-making machinery in each cell can produce shorter proteins from the same gene that encodes the largest of the proteins. Biologists had known of the existence of alternative translation but had not completely understood its physiological relevance. The Cedars-Sinai research team led by Shaw has expanded the understanding of this process and continues to study the precise role of the proteins produced by it.

The researchers also have determined that a class of drugs known as "mTOR inhibitors" -- those already used for immunosuppression in organ transplants -- can affect alternative translation, changing the balance of proteins in hearts cells, increasing the amount of electrical coordination in the heart. The findings suggest that mTOR inhibitors can be used to prevent erratic and sometimes fatal heart rhythms.

A properly beating heart is necessary to pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. When arrhythmias occur in the heart's main pumping chamber, the heart can stop, resulting in sudden cardiac arrest, the most common cause of death among heart patients. Preventing arrhythmias is a top clinical priority. The possibility of using mTOR inhibitors suggests that drugs used to treat transplanted hearts could also be used to treat failing hearts.

Cell-to-cell communication occurs in all other organs. The same proteins that help heart cells communicate also play a role in brain function, bone development and insulin production in the pancreas. These proteins also affect the contraction of muscle cells within the uterus during childbirth and may potentially suppress cancer cells. The finding that mTOR inhibitors improve cell-to-cell communication indicates that this class of drugs could be useful to treat multiple disorders.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "Key proteins identified responsible for electrical communication in heart." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140113143342.htm>.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. (2014, January 13). Key proteins identified responsible for electrical communication in heart. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140113143342.htm
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "Key proteins identified responsible for electrical communication in heart." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140113143342.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) — Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) — New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
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