But now researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine have shown that not all heart cells are created equal; in response to one signal to differentiate, some will act, while others lie in wait.
The discovery, made in frogs, or Xenopus, may lead to advances in understanding – and ultimately treating – congenital heart disease and heart attacks.
“This is profoundly important work,” said Cam Patterson, M.D., professor of medicine, chair of cardiology and director of the Carolina Cardiovascular Biology Center. “Not only does it tell us about how stem cells differentiate to create the heart, but it provides us with knowledge that may very well help us to repair heart muscle after a heart attack.”
The study appears today (April 14) in the online issue of the journal Developmental Cell. It will be published in the print edition of the journal April 15.
To investigate the development of the heart, the researchers focused on a gene – called CASTOR – that has been implicated in stem cell differentiation in the fruit fly. Here, they manipulated the gene in a different organism – frogs.
“The study of the heart has its longest history in frogs. In fact, most of what we know about heart development has been learned in frogs,” said Frank Conlon, Ph.D., assistant professor of genetics in the UNC School of Medicine and senior author of the study.
First, Conlon and colleagues used small strings of nucleotides, or oligonucleotides, to mask the portions of genetic material that call for the assembly of the CASTOR protein in frogs. Once CASTOR was depleted in the frog embryos, the scientists watched to see how the heart would develop.
What they discovered was contrary to all previous notions of heart development. Instead of all the cells differentiating in harmony, a small subset of cells at the base of the heart remained in a state of infancy. When the researchers mapped the fate of these infant cells, or progenitors, they found that they normally would have given rise to the outer walls of ventricles of the adult heart.
This finding has ramifications for the use of progenitor cells for therapy, in which cells would be transplanted into the area of the organ injured by a heart attack in order to create healthy tissue. The problem is that the idea, while still theoretical, is based on all progenitors being the same.
“What we have found is that this belief simply isn’t true,” Conlon said. “Instead, there appear to be at least two types of progenitors, and we think there may be many more.”
In order to identify which subsets of cells would be the most appropriate for treating a heart attack, scientists must figure out just how many different types of heart cell progenitors exist in the first place. Conlon is trying to do just that, by manipulating other genes in addition to CASTOR. He also hopes to verify his findings in an intermediary organism, such as a mouse model, before searching for genetic counterparts in humans.
Patric Lane | EurekAlert!
Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University
Direct conversion of non-neuronal cells into nerve cells
03.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2018 | Life Sciences
16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences