Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have discovered the molecular sequence of events in mice that turn a juvenile heart into an adult heart capable of responding to increased workloads.
Xu et al./Cell
Published as the cover story in the January 14, 2005 issue of the journal Cell, the study identifies a protein called ASF/SF2 as a regulator of a calcium enzyme responsible for heart contraction and tissue growth. Mice born with mutated or absent ASF/SF2 had shortened contractive fiber that appeared locked in a contracted state, leading to sudden death. When ASF/SF2 was normal, heart development progressed normally.
“The cascade of molecular events that we have uncovered are directly relevant to understanding heart physiology during development, and may provide insights into mechanisms that directly contribute to heart attacks in humans,” said the study’s senior author, Xiang-Dong Fu, Ph.D., a UCSD professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.
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