Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Heart Thinning

WT1 protein is vital for normal heart development

16 May 2023

Heart Thinning

Our heart is more than just a powerful muscle. It's infiltrated with blood vessels that are vital to supplying the oxygen-rich blood that it needs. Laying down these vessels is crucial for heart development, and if the steps aren’t followed correctly, it can result in heart defects and even lethality. But what are those key steps to follow and what genes and proteins are responsible? One major player could be a protein called WT1. Researchers removed this protein in mouse embryos to see what impact it would have. They found that without this protein during development, the muscle layer of the heart is much thinner (right, red) compared to normal (left), but also the number of blood vessels (green) is reduced. Together, this shows that WT1 is vital for heart development and is new knowledge that could help develop new therapies to form new blood vessels in the heart.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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