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!
The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
How protein islands form
15.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
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...
Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research