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Cedars-Sinai study identifies heart-specific protein that protects against arrhythmia
Date:5/18/2014

LOS ANGELES Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute have identified a heart-specific form of a protein, BIN1, responsible for sculpting tiny folds in pockets that are present on the surface of heart muscle cells. The study provides the first direct evidence of a previously theoretical "fuzzy space" or "slow diffusion zone" that protects against irregular heartbeats by maintaining an ideal concentration of electrochemical molecules.

"The findings help us understand how heart cells are organized, but more importantly, they give us insight into the way heart cells change when hearts start to fail," said Robin Shaw, MD, PhD, cardiologist and expert in heart failure and rhythm abnormalities at the Heart Institute.

"In addition, the results have diagnostic implications and eventually could lead to therapeutic options," said Shaw, senior author of an article in the May 18 issue of Nature Medicine that describes the study, which was conducted in laboratory mice. "By measuring the BIN1 level in the heart or in the bloodstream, we believe we can approximate the health of the heart and prognosticate patient outcome because we know BIN1 is decreased in heart failure. This gives us a target: If we can restore or replace the BIN1, perhaps we can rescue failing hearts."

The surface of muscle cells in the main pumping chamber of the heart the left ventricle is dimpled like a golf ball, but the dimples form deep pockets called T-tubules. Molecules of electrically charged chemicals "linger" inside the tubules, waiting to rush through gated channels of the cell membrane into the cell. When calcium enters the cell, the heart cell contracts. An outflow of potassium molecules counteracts the calcium influx and allows the cell to relax.

Shaw's group, which has studied BIN1 for seven years, previously found that BIN1 allowed calcium channels to localize to the T-tubules, establishing pathways for calcium to get into the cell.
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Contact: Sally Stewart
sally.stewart@cshs.org
310-248-6566
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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