Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell biology

Research in Focus

The Perinexus - A New Feature of Electrical Signaling in the Heart
Two recent publications from the Gourdie lab provide novel insight into the electrical signals that keep the heart beating. Matthew Rhett, a post-doc in the lab, has just had his research accepted for publication in Molecular Biology of Cell - the prestigious flagship journal of the American Society of Cell Biology. Rhett's study was on gap junctions - clusters of intercellular channels that span the gap between cells coupling them together. The paper describes a new feature of the gap junction - the PERINEXUS. The perinexus is a zone surrounding the gap junction, enriched with a scaffold protein that holds channels prior to clustering into the communicating junction. The existence of the perinexus was shown using the cutting-edge Duolink method for identifying molecular interactions between proteins. Importantly, this research demonstrates that the perinexus contains machinery controlling how cells talk to one another and with their environment. The second paper focuses on the role of gap junctions in communicating the electrical signals that regulate the heartbeat. This research was published in the journal Circulation Research and features the work of two MD-PhD students, Michael O'Quinn and Joseph Palatinus.The study shows that a peptide designed to disrupt linkage between the gap junction and its perinexal scaffold improves electrical signaling and reduces arrhythmias following injury to the heart. Together, these studies may provide new avenues for treatments that improve wound healing and reduce deadly arrhythmias.

posted 9/28/2011

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