When a young athlete suddenly dies of a heart attack, chances are high that they suffer from familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Itis the most common genetic heart disease in the US and affects an estimated 1 in 500 people around the world. A protein called myosin acts as the molecular motor which makes the muscles in the heart contract. Researchers had suspected for some time that the R403Q mutation in some of the myosin genes is among those that play a role in causing HCM. But experiments using mice models failed to show that this was indeed the case. (Mice are often used in experiments because their behaviour, biology and genetic material resemble those of humans).
An international team led by Professor Dilson Rassier from McGill’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, has discovered, by working with transgenic rabbits with the R403Q mutation, that in these rabbits, individual myosin molecules and myofibrils (the basic rod-like filaments inside muscles) produce less force and a lower maximum velocity of contraction than those isolated from healthy hearts.
They reached this conclusion by using advanced techniques such as atomic force microscopy and molecular motility assays (which allows them to visualize the movements of these proteins in vitro) to look more closely at what was going on within myosin molecules and also within myofibrils.
Source: Read Full Article