Scientists at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease (GICD) and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) have identified a genetic factor critical to the formation of chambers in the developing heart. The discovery of the role of a microRNA called miR-138, could offer strategies for the treatment of congenital heart defects.
The heart is one of the first and most important organs to develop. In fact, embryos cannot survive long with a functioning heart. In vertebrates (animals with backbones), special cells form a heart tube; that tube loops back on itself to form the atrium and ventricle and the canal and valve that separates them. This requires a complicated sequence of genes turning on and off. MicroRNAs are very small RNAs of 20 to 25 nucleotides that regulate numerous gene functions. Approximately 650 human miRNAs are known, but only a few have yet been studied to determine what they actually do in a cell.
Researchers, led by Sarah Morton, an MD/PhD student at UCSF and GICD Director Deepak Srivastava MD, examined zebrafish, which are an ideal model system for understanding genetic functions. Zebrafish are small, reproduce fast, and are essentially transparent so that that events of heart formation can be studied while they are still alive. Yet many of their systems are quite similar to those of humans. For example, miR-138 is exactly the same in zebrafish and humans.
"What's interesting is that a single microRNA is responsible for setting up the distinct patterning of a developing heart into separate chambers," said Dr. Srivastava, senior author of the study. "Since many congenital heart defects involve abnormalities in the formation of the chambers, this is important information in finding ways of treating or avoiding those defects."
The GICD scientists reported in today's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, that miR-138 is present in the zebrafish heart at specific times and in specific places in the developing heart. Furthermore, they showed that it is required to insure that the cardiac chambers develop properly. When the scientists used genetic engineering techniques to eliminate miR-138, cardiac function was disrupted, and the ventricles did not develop correctly, with the muscle precursor cells failing to mature properly.
"The miR-138 function was required during a discrete developmental window that occurred 24-34 hours after fertilization," said Sarah Morton. The team also showed that the miRNA controlled development by regulating numerous factors that function jointly to define the chambers, including a key enzyme that makes retinoic acid.
Valerie Tucker | EurekAlert!
A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception
25.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik
Studying a catalyst for blood cancers
25.04.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences
25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences