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Science File

Key to Heart Formation Found

July 02, 2001|From Times staff and wire reports

Texas researchers have found a protein that controls the development of the heart--a discovery that could contribute to novel methods of creating heart cells that, in turn, could be used in the treatment of various cardiac conditions. Dr. Eric Olson and his colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center report in the July issue of Cell that the protein myocardin is produced in cardiac muscle cells and turns on cardiac genes. Without this protein, formation of the heart does not occur in frog embryos.

The scientists studied the function of myocardin by injecting frog embryos with a mutant form of myocardin, which blocked growth of the heart.

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