Proteins which play key role in limiting size of heart attacks identified
Researchers have found that six proteins, five more than previously thought, are responsible for cell-to-cell communication that regulates the heart and plays a role in limiting the size of heart attacks and strokes.
The researchers determined that the smallest of these proteins directs the largest in performing its role of coordinating billions of heart cells during each heartbeat. Together, the proteins synchronize the beating heart.
"The findings advance our understanding of cell-to-cell communication at the root of healthy heart function. When there is less cell communication, which occurs in failing hearts, chances are greater of disturbances in heart rhythm that can result in disability or death," senior author of the study Robin Shaw said.
Until now, scientists had recognized just one protein involved in cell-to-cell communication that occurs through conduits known as "gap junctions." The Cedars-Sinai researchers identified five additional proteins that regulate the rapid flow of electrical communication signals, coordinating heart cells to produce a stable heartbeat.
The researchers also have determined that a class of drugs known as "mTOR inhibitors" - those already used for immunosuppression in organ transplants - can affect alternative translation, changing the balance of proteins in hearts cells, increasing the amount of electrical coordination in the heart.
The findings suggest that mTOR inhibitors can be used to prevent erratic and sometimes fatal heart rhythms.
The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.
(Posted on 14-01-2014)