Punctured cell membranes lead to high blood pressure

January 27, 2014

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have identified how a mutated protein can lead to holes in a protein sitting in a cell's membrane. Such holes cause high blood pressure, and the discovery can now lead to new and better medication for high blood pressure.

High can be caused by many things - one of them being a specific mutated protein. Now the researchers at University of Southern Denmark have found out exactly what unfortunate events in the human organism are initiated by the mutated protein.

"This knowledge can now lead to new and better medicines for ", says the lead author of a new scientific publication, PhD student Wojciech Kopec from the Center for Biomembrane Physics (MEMPHYS) at the University of Southern Denmark.

He explains that some years ago research colleagues from University of Aarhus found out that a particular mutated protein is associated with high blood pressure. But the exact mechanism at play could not be clarified until now.

Wojciech Kopec and his colleagues, Himanshu Khandelia and Bastien Loubet from Memphys and Hanne Poulsen from University of Aarhus, have now revealed the mechanism at play: The mutated protein leads to the formation of holes in a protein sitting in a cell's membrane, and so the cell can no longer control what is allowed into and out of the cell interior. The holes are made where the cell controls its content of salts. A normal, healthy cell has full control of how much salt () must be removed from within the cell so that it can maintain a perfect salt balance in the organism, it is a part of.

"But when there are holes, sodium ions can penetrate into the cell, so the salt levels go up. Too high salt levels are associated with many diseases, including high blood pressure", explains Wojciech Kopec.

This specific knowledge is particularly useful for the medical industry involved with developing new drugs.

"Medicine is molecules, and therefore it is in principle easy to develop a molecular formula that can close the holes in the membrane", says Wojciech Kopec.

The researchers found the mechanism by running a computer simulation on one of the country's most powerful computer clusters, Horseshoe 6, which is situated at University of Southern Denmark.

Explore further: Abnormal activation of a protein may explain deadly link between high salt intake and obesity

More information: The Molecular Mechanism of Na+, K+-ATPase Malfunction in Mutations Characteristic for Adrenal Hypertension. Wojciech Kopec, Bastien Loubet, Hanne Poulsen, and Himanshu Khandelia. Biochemistry. DOI: 10.1021/bi401425g . Publication Dat. (Web): 15 Jan 2014.

Related Stories

Discovering Parkinson's cell mechanism

November 28, 2013

A new doctoral thesis from University of Stavanger suggests possible explanations of how a specific protein associated with Parkinson's disease (DJ-1) might be implicated in the onset of the disease.

Recommended for you

We've all got a blind spot, but it can be shrunk

August 31, 2015

You've probably never noticed, but the human eye includes an unavoidable blind spot. That's because the optic nerve that sends visual signals to the brain must pass through the retina, which creates a hole in that light-sensitive ...

Biologists identify mechanisms of embryonic wound repair

August 31, 2015

It's like something out of a science-fiction movie - time-lapse photography showing how wounds in embryos of fruit flies heal themselves. The images are not only real; they shed light on ways to improve wound recovery in ...

New 'Tissue Velcro' could help repair damaged hearts

August 28, 2015

Engineers at the University of Toronto just made assembling functional heart tissue as easy as fastening your shoes. The team has created a biocompatible scaffold that allows sheets of beating heart cells to snap together ...

Research identifies protein that regulates body clock

August 26, 2015

New research into circadian rhythms by researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga shows that the GRK2 protein plays a major role in regulating the body's internal clock and points the way to remedies for jet lag ...

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

August 26, 2015

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That's the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine's discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.