Navigation Links
Fruit fly's beating heart helps identify human heart disease genes

In a discovery that could greatly accelerate the search for genetic causes of heart disease, a multi-disciplinary Duke University research team has found that the common fruit fly can serve as a powerful new model for testing human genes implicated in heart disease.

The finding is important, the Duke team said, because the entire genome of the fruit fly is well understood and catalogued, enabling researchers to systemically screen genes to identify potential gene mutations or variants implicated in human heart disease. The achievement also raises the possible of rapid screening in fruit flies of drugs to treat heart disease, said the researchers.

The team's bioengineers adapted an existing imaging technology to visualize in detail for the first time the beating of the heart of a fruit fly, an insect the size of a grain of rice. The fly's heart is about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

After perfecting the new visualization technique, the researchers inserted into the fly genome a mutated gene that causes dilated cardiomyopathy in humans. This condition is often the cause of heart failure in humans and is characterized by heart muscle that has greatly enlarged and therefore is unable to pump blood efficiently. The moving images revealed that fly heart looked and acted just like a human heart with the same condition.

"The difficulty in performing studies to find specific genes that cause disease in humans is that you need large families with members afflicted with the disease," said Matthew J. Wolf, M.D., Ph.D., Duke Medical Center cardiology fellow and first author of paper appearing Jan. 23, 2006, in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "This can be a quite a complex and laborious undertaking. Even in mouse models of human disease, the process of screening for genes can take a long time.

"However, fruit flies, with their well-documented genome and rapid life-cycle, have th e potential to greatly speed the process of finding and verifying candidate human genes for heart disease," Wolf continued. "In our experiments, we were able to demonstrate for the first time that a mutated gene that causes a specific heart disease in a human causes the same disease in the fruit fly."

Senior author on the paper was cardiologist Howard Rockman, M.D. Other co-authors were fruit fly geneticist Hubert Amrein, Ph.D. in Duke Medical Center, and bioengineers Joseph Izatt, Ph.D. and Michael Choma, Ph.D. of Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

In recognition of his research, the American Heart Association bestowed upon Wolf its prestigious Louis N. and Arnold M. Katz Basic Research Prize in November during its annual scientific sessions. This is the second year in a row that a trainee in Rockman's lab has won the Katz prize. Last year, Naga Prasad, Ph.D. received the award.

In the past, researchers could not accurately study heart disease in fruit flies because of an inability to accurately image heart function of a living adult fly. Past investigators have measured the size of the heart and then made assumptions about what was happening inside, or dissected flies after death.

For their experiments, the Duke team adapted a technology known as optical coherence tomography (OCT), which is commonly used to measure the thickness of the retina in the eye, to obtain detailed images of the beating heart of an adult, unanesthetized fly.

"After inserting into the fly the gene that we know is implicated in dilated cardiomyopathy in humans, we imaged the adult fly with this novel system and what we saw looked exactly like the same condition in humans," Wolf said. "We obtained clear images that looked similar to an echocardiography study of a human patient with heart failure."

According to Rockman, about 80 percent of the gene mutations known to cause disease in humans have an equivalent in the fruit fly.

"If there is a mutation in a gene that causes a disease in the fruit fly, then there is a very good chance that there is a corresponding gene in humans," Rockman said. "It is an enormous breakthrough to demonstrate that a human gene can induce disease in a fly. With this novel fruit fly model, we can now screen genes we believe are involved in human heart disease and test them in the fly model."

If a candidate human gene leads to the same physiological effects in the fly as it does in humans, researchers can then not only test different compounds or drugs, but do so much quicker than in other mammal models of disease.

"These findings have the potential to change the way we do genetic screening to identify candidate disease-causing genes," Rockman continued. "Never before have we been able to actually visualize in the fruit fly the actual physiologic changes caused by dilated cardiomyopathy."

The Duke team is currently screening the entire genome of the fruit fly for additional candidate genes involved with dilated cardiomyopathy, a process which should take another six to nine months.

"We are now screening the entire fruit fly genome gene by gene, and determining whether the removal of the gene or a mutated version results in heart failure in the fly," Wolf explained. "With this new model, we can rapidly correlate abnormal heart functioning with a specific gene mutation."


'"/>

Source:Duke University Medical Center


Related biology news :

1. X-Ray Beams And Fruit Fly Flight Simulator Aid Scientists View Of Muscle Power
2. Fruit fly studies open new window on cancer research
3. Fruit fly research set to revolutionize study of birth defects
4. How Fruitflies Know Its Time for Lunch
5. Fruit fly reveals a potential connection between dementia and cancer
6. Fruit fly dating game provides clues to our reproductive prowess
7. Fruit fly aggression studies have relevance to humans, animals
8. Psst! Coffee drinkers: Fruit flies have something to tell you about caffeine
9. Fruit fly study identifies gene mutation that regulates sensitivity to alcohol
10. Fruit flies and global warming -- Some like it hot
11. Fruit fly gene research may shed light on human disease processes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/9/2016)... , June 9, 2016 ... deploy Teleste,s video security solution to ensure the safety of ... during the major tournament Teleste, an ... systems and services, announced today that its video security solution ... to back up public safety across the country. The ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... LONDON , June 2, 2016 ... Systems, Manned Platforms, Unmanned Systems, Physical Infrastructure, Support & ... intelligence provider visiongain offers comprehensive analysis of ... that this market will generate revenues of $17.98 billion ... Systems acquired DVTEL Inc, a leader in software and ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... 2016 WearablesResearch.com , a brand of ... results from the Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables ... consumers, receptivity to a program where they would receive ... insurance company. "We were surprised to see ... Michael LaColla , CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... Ginkgo Bioworks , a leading organism design company ... as one of the World Economic Forum,s Technology ... companies. Ginkgo Bioworks is engineering biology to manufacture ... the nutrition, health and consumer goods sectors. The ... Fortune 500 companies to design microbes for their ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Mosio, a leader in ... Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced clinical research professionals, Mosio ... practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , “The landscape of how ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has ... Association to serve as their official health care ... Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, ... coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. "We ... Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality services ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network for electronics hardware design ... Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is to bring together inventors ... and brought to market. , The Design Lab is Supplyframe’s physical representation of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: