Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Heart saves muscle

New study shows heart muscle protein can replace its missing skeletal muscle counterpart to give mice with myopathy a long and active life

A heart muscle protein can replace its missing skeletal muscle counterpart to give mice with myopathy a long and active life, show Nowak et al. The findings will be published online on Monday, May 25, 2009 ( and will appear in the June 1, 2009 print issue of the Journal of Cell Biology.

The contraction machinery protein, actin, exists in different forms in the adult heart and skeletal muscles. The heart form, ACTC, is also the dominant form in skeletal muscle of the fetus. But during development, the skeletal form, ACTA1, increases in production and by birth has taken over. It is not clear why the switch occurs, or why it doesn't occur in the heart, but it happens in every higher vertebrate and, for that reason, has been considered vitally important.

Mutations to the ACTA1 gene cause a rare but serious myopathy. Most patients die within the first year of life and some are born almost completely paralyzed. Mice lacking ACTA1 die nine days after birth. Nowak et al. wondered if ACTC could compensate for a lack of ACTA1. The two proteins differ only slightly but, like the developmental switch in production, this difference is conserved across species. Many researchers therefore assumed such compensation would never work.

But it did. Nowak and colleagues crossed Acta1 mutant mice with transgenic mice that express human ACTC at high levels in skeletal muscle cells. The resulting mice didn't die at nine days. In fact, almost all of them (93.5%) survived more than three months, and some more than two years. The mice's locomotor performance was comparable with wild-type, as was their overall muscle strength (though individual muscle fibers were slightly weaker), and their endurance was actually higher—they ran faster and for longer.

This begs the question, Why do we even have ACTA1? Besides pondering that, Nowak and colleagues are also working out how to boost endogenous ACTC as a possible therapy for ACTA1-lacking patients.

About the Journal of Cell Biology

Founded in 1955, the Journal of Cell Biology (JCB) is published by the Rockefeller University Press. All editorial decisions on manuscripts submitted are made by active scientists in conjunction with our in-house scientific editors. JCB content is posted to PubMed Central, where it is available to the public for free six months after publication. Authors retain copyright of their published works and third parties may reuse the content for non-commercial purposes under a creative commons license. For more information, please visit or visit the JCB press release archive at

Nowak, K.J., et al. 2009. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200812132

Rita Sullivan | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: ACTA1 ACTC Heart JCB cell biology cell death muscle fibers skeletal muscle synthetic biology

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller 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: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>