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 Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia 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: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>