Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Beat It
14 July 2013

Beat It

The most important muscle in your body is your heart, beating around 100,000 times a day. Inherited faults in the CRYAB gene cause changes that lead to a greater chance of sudden heart failure. To understand more about this important gene, researchers have turned to fruit flies, whose tiny hearts are also affected by faults in the fly version of CRYAB. These grey bars are traces showing the movement of individual fly hearts, with each ‘dip’ corresponding to a heartbeat. The top bar is a trace from a normal fly’s heart, while the middle one is beating irregularly and comes from a fly with a faulty gene. The lower one also carries the fault plus an altered version of a gene controlling oxygen use in muscle cells, and beats faster than usual. Understanding how these genetic changes alter a fly’s heartbeats reveals what’s going on in our own vital organs.

Written by Kat Arney

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