The Popeye protein and heart rhythm disorders

Zebra fish Professor Thomas Brand is looking at a gene present in the zebrafish heart which could be linked to abnormal heart rhythms and muscular dystrophy.

When a gene is mutated, the structure of proteins in the body can change, causing diseases. We’ve awarded £296,341 to a team of researchers at Imperial College London, led by Professor Thomas Brand, to look at a protein found in the heart and skeletal muscles, called the Popeye domain-containing (Popdc) protein. 

The Popeye protein

The Popeye protein is present in the heart and muscles, and has been linked to heart rhythm disorders and a debilitating condition called muscular dystrophy

Ion channels in the heart

Professor Brand believes the Popeye protein is important for transporting special ion channels to the surface of heart muscle cells. These ion channels allow the entry and exit of ions (like calcium and potassium) through the cells of the heart, which is key to the heart’s pumping action

The zebrafish joins our fight

The London-based team are looking at how changes in Popdc proteins in zebrafish hearts can lead to conditions such as heart rhythm disorders. With this knowledge, researchers hope to gain a better understanding of these genetic changes in humans with hopes of developing new treatments.

Thanks to your donations, BHF-funded researchers can continue using the extraordinary zebrafish in cardiovascular research.