After a decade of debate, scientists have a clear picture of a controversial protein that helps regulate heart contractions
Brandeis University researchers have unlocked a controversial structure in heart cells responsible for regulating heart contractions.
This is an E1 protein, on the surface of a mammalian cell, illuminated with a teal fluorescent protein and viewed through a laser mounted total internal reflection microscope.
Credit: Leigh Plant
For years, scientists have debated how many KCNE1 proteins are required to build a potassium ion channel, theorizing anywhere between one and 14. Now, Brandeis University researchers found that these channels are built with two E1s. Understanding the construction of this channel is key to understanding life-threatening heart conditions, such as arrhythmias, and developing drugs to threat those conditions.
This report challenges a previous study — the findings of which are currently being used in million dollar drug development trials — that anywhere between one and four E1s are required per channel. Brandeis researchers hope their new findings may help create more effective models to study heart conditions and their treatment.
Leigh Plant, assistant research professor of biochemistry, along with postdoctoral fellows Dazhi Xiong, Hui Dai and provost and professor of biochemistry Steve Goldstein, published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, March 3.
A single heartbeat is the slow expanding and contracting of the heart muscle. It is controlled, in part, by a series of channels on the surface of heart cells that regulate the movement of different ions into and out of the cells. The potassium ion channel is critical to ending each heart contraction and is made up of the proteins Q1 and E1. Q1s create the pore that the potassium flows through and the E1s control how slowly that pore opens and closes, how many channels are on the cell surface of each cell and how they are regulated by drugs.
Goldstein's team observed E1 in live, mammalian cells at remarkable sensitivity, counting the proteins in individual channels, something that had never been done before in this area of research. Because this mechanism has been so widely debated, Goldstein and his team used three different means to count E1 — including tagging them with different fluorescent colors and using a scorpion toxin to bind to Q1. Each time, the team got the same results.
While there is always room for debate in science, Goldstein and his team said they hope these findings will give researchers a quintessential key to unlocking the intricacies of the heartbeat.
This research was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Leah Burrows | EurekAlert!
Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related
17.08.2017 | University of Washington
The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy