Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

BPoD is 5

In 2017 we celebrate five years of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science

18 July 2017

Spinning Spider Proteins

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.

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Written by Deborah Oakley

Published in eLife, June 2017

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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.

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