Tarantula spider proteins have helped scientists to understand for the first time how genetic changes in heart muscle cause different forms of cardiomyopathy, one of the most common causes of heart failure and sudden death in otherwise healthy young people. At first glance, hairy eight-legged spiders appear to have little in common with people. But some of the proteins that make up a spider’s muscles are similar to those in our own bodies, including our hearts. Researchers chose to study spider proteins because it allowed them to explore their 3D structure and how they interact with their neighbours in much greater detail than is possible with human models. They focused on the muscle protein myosin. Here, different parts of myosin are shown in different colours. Coloured dots indicate mutations that block it from interacting with other proteins, which in turn stops the heart from relaxing, and can cause cardiomyopathy.Read more on this story here.
Written by Deborah Oakley
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.