Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists align billion-year-old protein with embryonic heart defects

08.12.2004


University of Rochester scientists studying a vital protein called Serum Response Factor (SRF) in mice have learned new and unexpected facts about SRF’s role in early cardiovascular development, and how a defect in this gene may be an underlying cause in human miscarriages.



The research is reported in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. At this point it is unclear whether subtle defects in SRF might also be linked to adult cardiovascular disease. However, the research provides a foundation for understanding how gene mutations may disrupt heart function, perhaps making some adults more susceptible to heart failure or irregular reactions to drugs.

"One reason for studying the biology of our genetic blueprint is so that we can understand how mutations in the genes encoding for proteins such as SRF may relate to human disease," says Joseph M. Miano, Ph.D., associate professor of Medicine in the Center for Cardiovascular Research at the University’s Aab Institute of Biomedical Sciences. "Defining the full spectrum of genetic mutations is key to genetic screening and gene-based therapies."


SRF is one of nature’s oldest proteins and is essential for life because it supports the basic internal structure of all living cells. Its function is to carefully turn on 300 of our 30,000 genes. But until now, scientists did not know much about its role in the heart region.

Miano’s laboratory led a collaborative study of SRF with investigators from the Medical College of Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. They studied mouse embryos, using genetic trickery to nullify SRF in heart cells and key blood vessel cells called smooth muscle cells. They compared the mutant mice to those with a normal amount of SRF in the heart and blood vessels. The heart and related vessels did not develop properly in the mice without SRF, the team discovered.

In fact, while analyzing the heart cells under a high-powered electron microscope, the lab discovered that normal heart cells (with SRF) contained the expected bundles of healthy fibers. Shaped like rubber bands, the bundles work like bands of muscle to keep the heart contracting normally. But in the absence of SRF, the neat bundles were gone. Instead, they were scattered about the heart region, as if the rubber band had been "shredded," Miano says.

Scientists concluded that cells lacking SRF could not sustain life because they lacked the necessary shape, structure and function to stay vital.

"SRF serves a very critical function in directing genes to develop an internal structure that acts sort of like the skeleton in the human body," Miano explains. "You can imagine that without a skeleton, our bodies would flop to the floor. Cells need the same structure and form in order to migrate, contract, and work properly."

Thus, although other scientists have defined hundreds of genes that may cause miscarriages due to cardiovascular defects, the latest research also links SRF for the first time to embryonic heart development. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health funded the research.

Miano’s group plans to conduct further studies in mice to pinpoint the exact cause of death among the animals that lack the SRF protein. In addition, the team is searching for all of the genes directed by SRF. The long-tem goal of the research is to provide a foundation for genetic screening for all types of cardiovascular disorders, and perhaps a way to replace the faulty genes through targeted therapy.

Scientists studying a vital protein called Serum Response Factor (SRF) in mice have learned new and unexpected facts about SRF’s role in early cardiovascular development, and how a defect in this gene may be an underlying cause in human miscarriages. The research provides a foundation for understanding how gene mutations may disrupt heart function, perhaps making some adults more susceptible to heart failure or irregular reactions to drugs.

Leslie Orr | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rochester.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cnidarians remotely control bacteria
21.09.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Immune cells may heal bleeding brain after strokes
21.09.2017 | NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>