Study looks at how newly discovered gene helps grow blood vessels

February 19, 2018, St. Michael's Hospital
A new study published today found that a newly discovered gene helps grow blood vessels when it senses inadequate blood flow to tissues. The research was led by Dr. Philip Marsden (photo), a clinician scientist in the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science of St. Michael's Hospital, and Dr. Jeffrey Man, a researcher in his lab. Credit: St. Michael's Hospital

A new study published today found that a newly discovered gene helps grow blood vessels when it senses inadequate blood flow to tissues.

The research, published online in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Dr. Philip Marsden, a clinician scientist in the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science of St. Michael's Hospital, and Dr. Jeffrey Man, a researcher in his lab.

Dr. Marsden and his team set out to better understand how regulate the delivery of and nutrients to tissues and organs, and how to improve healing after injury caused by inadequate blood flow.

The findings are important because they could help scientists better understand cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and strokes, which result from inadequate blood flow. The information could also lead to advances in efforts to grow replacement organs or to block blood vessels in tumours.

Dr. Marsden's lab studies endothelial cells, the cells that line the inside of blood vessels. For this study they looked at a newly described group of genes called long non-coding RNAs, or lncRNAs. RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is found in all cells and it has traditionally been thought that its main job was to carry instructions from genes in DNA to make proteins. But lncRNAs have other roles, including determining the eventual function that individual will play in an organism. Studying lncRNAs gives researchers opportunities to find new markers and tests to help make diagnoses for patients.

Dr. Man said this study was the first to identify which lncRNAs are more enriched with compared to other cell types. They plan to make the list public for other researchers to use.

They then discovered that one of those lncRNAs, called STEEL (for spliced-transcript endothelial-enriched lncRNA) was the one that sensed inadequate blood flow in microscopic blood vessels.

"What is really interesting is that STEEL helps our body respond to inadequate blood by growing more blood vessels," Dr. Man said.

"These results show that our bodies are really finely tuned to perform, just as we need them to, and also demonstrate that disruptions to this fine balance can cause problems. This data can be used to improve our understanding of blood diseases and help us find ways to improve healing and recovery after injury."

This study also made some findings that could be helpful for researchers studying lncRNAs in general, Dr. Marsden said. This study is one of the early studies to assess on a large scale which and how many proteins can associate with an individual lncRNA.

Explore further: Newly discovered gene may protect against heart disease

More information: H. S. Jeffrey Man el al., "Angiogenic patterning by STEEL, an endothelial-enriched long noncoding RNA," PNAS (2018). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1715182115

Related Stories

Newly discovered gene may protect against heart disease

February 14, 2018
Scientists have identified a gene that may play a protective role in preventing heart disease. Their research revealed that the gene, called MeXis, acts within key cells inside clogged arteries to help remove excess cholesterol ...

Endothelial cells may contribute to formation of new vessels compensating for inadequate blood supply

January 22, 2018
Cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels (endothelial cells) have the capacity to clonally expand and contribute to the development of new vessels due to inadequate blood supply to the heart, known as ischemia, ...

An organ-on-a-chip device that models heart disease

January 2, 2018
When studying diseases or testing potential drug therapies, researchers usually turn to cultured cells on Petri dishes or experiments with lab animals, but recently, researchers have been developing a different approach: ...

How blood vessels are formed

September 15, 2017
Researchers at Heidelberg University have discovered a crucial biological step that regulates the formation of blood vessels. They were able to show that the proteins YAP and TAZ play an important role in this process. The ...

Scientists find key to regenerating blood vessels

November 23, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) identifies a signaling pathway that is essential for angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels. The ...

Recommended for you

Exercise-induced hormone irisin triggers bone remodeling in mice

December 13, 2018
Exercise has been touted to build bone mass, but exactly how it actually accomplishes this is a matter of debate. Now, researchers show that an exercise-induced hormone activates cells that are critical for bone remodeling ...

Law professor suggests a way to validate and integrate deep learning medical systems

December 13, 2018
University of Michigan professor W. Nicholson Price, who also has affiliations with Harvard Law School and the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law, suggests in a Focus piece published in Science Translational Medicine, ...

Faster test for Ebola shows promising results in field trials

December 13, 2018
A team of researchers with members from the U.S., Senegal and Guinea, in cooperation with Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), has developed a faster test for the Ebola virus than those currently in use. In their paper published ...

Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in brain independently of one another

December 13, 2018
Pain is a negative sensation that we want to get rid of as soon as possible. In order to protect our bodies, we react by withdrawing the hand from heat, for example. This action is usually understood as the consequence of ...

Drug targets for Ebola, Dengue, and Zika viruses found in lab study

December 13, 2018
No drugs are currently available to treat Ebola, Dengue, or Zika viruses, which infect millions of people every year and result in severe illness, birth defects, and even death. New research from the Gladstone Institutes ...

Researchers give new insight to muscular dystrophy patients

December 13, 2018
New research by University of Minnesota scientists has revealed the three-dimensional structure of the DUX4 protein, which is responsible for the disease, facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). Unlike the majority ...

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.