Researchers have found that changes in cellular struts called microtubules (MT) can affect the stiffness of diseased human heart muscle cells, and reversing these modifications can lessen the stiffness and improve the beating strength of these cells isolated from transplant patients with heart failure. By suppressing impaired MTs, the team improved heart muscle cell function in damaged human cells. Normally, MTs of the cell's inner support system have diverse structural and signaling roles. Alterations in this network have been suggested to contribute to heart disease. Recent studies suggest that chemical changes to the MTs, called detyrosination (the removal of a tyrosine chemical group), control the mechanics of heart beats. Detyrosinated MTs provide resistance that can impede the motion of contracting heart muscle cells. The researchers used mass spectrometry and mechanical tests of single heart muscle cells to characterize changes to the MT network and its consequences for normal heart function. "These findings provide compelling evidence from human samples for a new therapeutic target for heart disease," one of the researchers suggested.
Visit Website | Image credit: Ben Prosser, Ph.D./Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania