Protein responsible for failing heart
Heart failure - when the heart can not supply sufficient blood to organs of the body - affects around 4.5 million patients in the US. One of the ways in which it occurs is through inappropriate dilation of heart chambers such as the atria and the ventricles. This enlargement (dilated cardiomyopathy) is due to growth of individual heart cells and can be caused by genetic mutation or by disease.
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have investigated mutations of the cytoskeleton (the internal system of protein fibres and tubules within the cell) that lead to dilated cardiomyopathy.
Using a mouse model, they discovered that a protein called alpha-actinin-associated LIM protein (ALP) is vital to the development of the right ventricle (Nature Medicine, Vol. 7, No. 5, 01 May 01). Disruption of the ALP gene causes dilation and dysfunction of the right ventricle indicating that that ALP might be involved in some cases of cardiomyopathy. They report that ALP enables alpha-actinin to cross-link actin filaments within the heart that provide structural support to cells and together, allowing the heart to contract and relax.
Dr. Kenneth R. Chien
0613C Basic Science Building
UCSD School of Medicine
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(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza