A new study found a crucial protein that keeps the heart beating on time, which could eventually help in finding potential treatment for deadly heart problems.
W. Jonathan Lederer, MD, PhD, professor of physiology at the UM SOM, as well as director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Technology, and David Warshaw, PhD, professor of molecular physiology and biophysics at University of Vermont (UVM) and the Cardiovascular Research Institute of Vermont, describe how myosin-binding protein C ("C protein") allows the muscle fibers in the heart to work in perfect synchrony.
C protein sensitizes certain parts of the sarcomere to calcium. As a result, the middle of the sarcomere contracts just as much as the ends, despite having much less calcium. In other words, C protein enables the sarcomeres to contract synchronously.
It appears to play a large part in many forms of heart disease. In the most severe cases, defects in C-protein lead to extremely serious arrhythmias, which cause sudden death when the heart loses the ability to pump blood. In the U.S., arrhythmias contribute to about 300,000 deaths a year, according to the American Heart Association. (Not all arrhythmias are fatal; some can be controlled with medicines and electrical stimulation.)
The study is published in the journal Science Advances.