Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Biologists discover a key regulator in the pacemakers of our brain and heart

28.04.2014

Biologists have discovered how an outer shield over T-type channels change the electrochemical signaling of heart and brain cells.

Understanding how these shields work will help researchers eventually develop a new class of drugs for treating epilepsy, cardiovascular disease and cancer.


The researchers discovered T-type channels in the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, can shift from using calcium ions to using sodium ions to generate the electrical signal.

The study from the University of Waterloo is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry today and is featured as the “Paper of the Week” for its significance.

The researchers discovered T-type channels in the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, can shift from using calcium ions to using sodium ions to generate the electrical signal because of an outer shield of amino acids called a turret situated above the channel’s entrance.

Low voltage T-type channels generate tiny pulses of current at regular intervals by selectively passing positively charged cations across the cell’s membrane through a gate-like channel. The channels are normally extremely selective, allowing just one sodium ion to pass for every 10,000 calcium ions.

The resulting rhythmic signals produced by this transfer of cations are what support the synchronous contraction of our heart muscles and neuronal firing in parts of the brain, like the thalamus, which helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm.

In addition to their published findings, the researchers also found the shield-like turrets in pond snails restrict access of therapeutic drugs to the channel.

T-type channels in pond snails and other invertebrates are similar to those found in humans. Although pond snails reach only 7 cm in length, its simple neural network and physiology make it a popular model organism with neurobiologists.

Over-active T-type channels are linked to epilepsy, cardiac problems, neuropathic pain, as well as the spreading of several kinds of cancer. Drugs that could quench out-of-control T-type channel activity are unable to bind to the channels themselves.

“We wanted to understand the molecular structures of T-type channels,” said Spafford. “How they pass ionic currents to generate electrical activity, and to identify drug binding sites, and the drugs which may block these channels to treat neurological disease or heart complications.”

The group is currently investigating how dismantling this extracellular turret will improve drug access and binding in T-type channels.

Waterloo Biology graduate students Adriano Senatore, Wendy Guan and Research Associate Adrienne Boone carried out the research under the supervision of Professor David Spafford.

Adriano Senatore recently graduated with his doctorate in 2013. He received the Governor General’s Medal for best PhD thesis at the University of Waterloo. Senatore has published more than a dozen research articles with Dr. Spafford for his PhD thesis research.

This work was funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the NSERC Discovery program.

About the University of Waterloo

In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit www.uwaterloo.ca.

Media Contact

Nick Manning
University of Waterloo
519-888-4451
226-929-7627
www.uwaterloo.ca/news
@uWaterlooNews

Attention broadcasters: Waterloo has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds with a double-ender studio. Please contact us to book.

Nick Manning | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
https://uwaterloo.ca/news/news/biologists-discover-key-regulator-pacemakers-our-brain-and

Further reports about: CANCER Epilepsy T-type Waterloo activity cardiovascular disease cations discover drugs ions snails thesis

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Strong Evidence – New Insight in Muscle Function
27.04.2015 | Austrian Science Fund FWF

nachricht Cell fusion ‘eats up’ the ‘attractive cell’ in flowering plants
27.04.2015 | Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules (WPI-ITbM), Nagoya University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fast and Accurate 3-D Imaging Technique to Track Optically-Trapped Particles

KAIST researchers published an article on the development of a novel technique to precisely track the 3-D positions of optically-trapped particles having complicated geometry in high speed in the April 2015 issue of Optica.

Daejeon, Republic of Korea, April 23, 2015--Optical tweezers have been used as an invaluable tool for exerting micro-scale force on microscopic particles and...

Im Focus: NOAA, Tulane identify second possible specimen of 'pocket shark' ever found

Pocket sharks are among the world's rarest finds

A very small and rare species of shark is swimming its way through scientific literature. But don't worry, the chances of this inches-long vertebrate biting...

Im Focus: Drexel materials scientists putting a new spin on computing memory

Ever since computers have been small enough to be fixtures on desks and laps, their central processing has functioned something like an atomic Etch A Sketch, with electromagnetic fields pushing data bits into place to encode data.

Unfortunately, the same drawbacks and perils of the mechanical sketch board have been just as pervasive in computing: making a change often requires starting...

Im Focus: Exploding stars help to understand thunderclouds on Earth

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was discovered, more or less by coincidence, that cosmic rays provide suitable probes to measure electric fields within thunderclouds. This surprising finding is published in Physical Review Letters on April 24th. The measurements were performed with the LOFAR radio telescope located in the Netherlands.

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was...

Im Focus: On the trail of a trace gas

Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.

In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

HHL Energy Conference on May 11/12, 2015: Students Discuss about Decentralized Energy

23.04.2015 | Event News

“Developing our cities, preserving our planet”: Nobel Laureates gather for the first time in Asia

23.04.2015 | Event News

HHL's Entrepreneurship Conference on FinTech

13.04.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Strong Evidence – New Insight in Muscle Function

27.04.2015 | Life Sciences

The Future of Oil and Gas: Last of Her Kind

27.04.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny Lab Devices Could Attack Huge Problem of Drug-Resistant Infections

27.04.2015 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>