A gene in the nucleus of muscle and brain cells named  MLIP (Muscle enriched A-type Lamin Interacting Protein) affects heart development and the aging process, according to a study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry .

Mutations in the Lamin gene family are associated with muscular dystrophy and other degenerative heart muscle diseases.    

The researchers, from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI),  focus on the fetal heart as it grows into an adult heart and discovered the gene in the cell's nucleus, the site where hereditary information or DNA is housed, suggesting that it may control the behavior of other genes important in heart development.    

"We know that aging is the greatest predictor of cardiovascular disease and heart failure. So we have been working backward in time, looking at the fetal heart to understand changes in the process as it ages, grows frail and fails," said molecular biologist Patrick Burgon, PhD.

They now intend to investigate how animal models respond when the MLIP gene is removed to gain greater knowledge into its function.  Previously,
Heart Institute researchers identified gene 9p21 – the first genetic risk factor recognized for heart disease and the first major new cardiovascular risk factor since the discovery of cholesterol and their international consortium has discovered 13 new genes that increase the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD).   

"Greater knowledge of this gene and how it works will help us understand loss of cardiac function. Our research opens up new avenues relevant to the characteristics of cardiac development," said Burgon.

Citation: Elmira Ahmady, Shelley A. Deeke, Seham Rabaa, Lara Kouri, Laura Kenney, Alexandre F. R. Stewart and Patrick G. Burgon, 'Identification of a novel muscle enriched A-type Lamin interacting protein (MLIP)', doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.165548