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 What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>