Proteins are an essential part of our body. A particular protein, Popeye protein, has been identified in the cardiac pacemaker centers of the heart. This Popeye protein plays an essential part in the adaption of heart during stress. The importance of the discovery of Popeye proteins lay in the possibility of development of treatments for abnormal heart rhythms. Popeye protein conserved region is a family of evolutionary related proteins. The Popeye family of proteins is mostly found in the developing and adult striated muscles and is restricted only to the vertebrates. These Popeye proteins are represented by highly conserved region which includes about three transmembrane domains. The presence of the Popeye proteins in the heart and striated muscles indicates their important function in these regions.
This Popeye domain protein helps the body to cope with stress. During stress the body releases the hormone adrenaline. However, how exactly adrenaline alters the heart rhythm during stress was not known. Adrenaline causes Popeye protein to be released into the blood stream which causes the heart to increase its rhythm, thus helping the body to cope with stress in the process. Popeye domain protein is found in abundance in the muscles and though it had been discovered 10 years back, its exact function in the body has been unknown until now.
Heartbeats are initiated in the specialized pacemaker cells of the heart- Sino atrial node and atrio ventricular node. Popeye domain proteins are present in the outer membranes of these pacemaker cells and the Popeye proteins stains red in the outer membranes of these cells. During stress when the body releases adrenaline, cAMP-a signaling molecule- is released which interacts with the Popeye protein. This interaction of the Popeye protein with cAMP changes the electrical properties of the cell membrane. It is thought that this is the phenomenon by which adrenaline alters the reaction of the heart during stressful situations.
Many researches were conducted to know the exact function of Popeye proteins in our body. In healthy humans and mice adrenaline is released during stress which helps the body to cope with stress by helping the heart to pump more oxygen laden blood all through the body. However, experiments conducted on mice that lacked the Popeye domain protein gene reveled that these mice were unable to cope with stressful situations and their heart rate actually slowed down.
The above mentioned research observations can be applied incase of humans. Many elderly people have heart irregularities like sick sinus syndrome, arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation etc. it is believed that the research conducted on Popeye proteins on mice can throw substantial light on these irregularities and it is expected that new treatments for these heart related disorders can now be on its way.
Discovery of the Popeye proteins in the heart pacemaker cells have given the researchers a new direction for research into the heart beat irregularities. Many elderly people lose their lives each year due to complications developed by irregular heartbeats. Further research in Popeye proteins can throw light into this phenomenon and help to develop the right kind of treatment.
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