New gene can keep heart healthy, heart diseases at bay

A gene that may play a protective role in preventing heart disease has been discovered.

Published: 14th February 2018 07:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th February 2018 07:38 AM   |  A+A-

By ANI

WASHINGTON: A gene that may play a protective role in preventing heart disease has been discovered.

The UCLA-led study revealed that the gene, called MeXis, acts within key cells inside clogged arteries to help remove excess cholesterol from blood vessels.

It found that MeXis controls the expression of a protein that pumps cholesterol out of cells in the artery wall.

MeXis is an example of a "selfish" gene, one that is presumed to have no function because it does not make a protein product. However, recent studies have suggested that these so-called "unhelpful" genes can actually perform important biological functions without making proteins and instead producing a special class of molecules called long non-coding RNAs, or lncRNAs.

"What this study tells us is that lncRNAs are important for the inner workings of cells involved in the development of heart disease," said senior author Peter Tontonoz. "Considering many genes like MeXis have completely unknown functions, our study suggests that further exploring how other long non-coding RNAs act will lead to exciting insights into both normal physiology and disease."

In the study, researchers found that mice lacking MeXis had almost twice as many blockages in their blood vessels compared to mice with normal MeXis levels. In addition, boosting MeXis levels made cells more effective at removing excess cholesterol.

In the next phase of the study, researchers will further explore how MeXis affects the function of cells in the artery wall and will test various approaches to altering MeXis activity. The researchers are interested in finding out if MeXis could be targeted for therapy of cardiovascular disease.

"The idea that lncRNAs are directly involved in very common ailments such as plaque buildup within arteries offers new ways of thinking about how to treat and diagnose heart disease," said lead author Tamer Sallam. "There is likely a good reason why genes that make RNAs rather than proteins exist. A key question for us moving forward is how they may be involved in health and disease."

The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine. 

Stay up to date on all the latest Health news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

Asian Games 2018