Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

A*STAR Scientists Discover Novel Hormone Essential for Heart Development

Published: Friday, December 06, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, December 06, 2013
Bookmark and Share
This unusual discovery could aid cardiac repair and provide new therapies to common heart diseases and hypertension.

Scientists at A*STAR's Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) and Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (IMCB) have identified a gene encoding a hormone that could potentially be used as a therapeutic molecule to treat heart diseases.

The hormone - which they have chosen to name ELABELA - is only 32 amino-acids long, making it amongst the tiniest proteins made by the human body.

The team led by Dr Bruno Reversade carried out experiments to determine ELABELA's function, since its existence was hitherto unsuspected. Using zebrafish designed to specifically lack this hormone, they uncovered that ELABELA is indispensable for heart formation. Zebrafish embryos without this gene had rudimentary or no heart at all. Their results were published in the 5 December 2013 online issue of Developmental Cell.

Deficiencies in hormones are the cause of many diseases, such as the loss of insulin or insulin resistance, that results in diabetes, and irregularities in appetite and satiety hormones that can cause obesity. Hormones are known to control functions such as sleep, appetite and fertility. However, this is the first time that scientists have revealed the existence of a conserved hormone playing such an early role during embryogenesis, effectively orchestrating the development of an entire organ.

The team also found that ELABELA uses a receptor previously believed to be specific to APELIN, a blood-pressure controlling hormone. This receptor called APJ or Apelin Receptor has dual functions - it first conveys signals from ELABELA and then from APELIN. Mutations in the Apelin Receptor also prevent the heart from forming. Zebrafish bereft of the Apelin Receptor are referred to as the Grinch, in reference to the cold and heartless cartoon character created by Dr. Seuss in 1957.

ELABELA has also been found to be expressed in human embryonic stem cells, indicating that it might have other functions beyond its role in cardiovascular development.

The team's findings hold great promise for the potential use of ELABELA as a therapeutic molecule for cardiovascular disease to be used in cardiac repair and control of hypertension. As some people might have a harmful copy of the ELABELA gene in their genetic make-up, sequencing and screening for this particular gene in the general population might also help to detect predisposition to heart anomalies before the disease progresses.

Dr Bruno Reversade said, "The human genome has been sequenced over a decade ago. That we can still find anonymous hormones charms me. There are a still a few more to discover... but not for long."

Prof Birgitte Lane, Executive Director of IMB, said, "This discovery shows great promise for the development of targeted therapies for heart disease and blood pressure control in the future. It is an excellent example of how basic research can lead to surprising and unexpected findings that may change and refine medical practice."

Prof Hong Wan Jin, Executive Director of IMCB, said, "I am very pleased with Bruno's achievement as it reflects the synergy of collaboration and joint efforts among various research institutes in Singapore."

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

New Tool to Study Critical Protein Interaction in Cancer Research
A*STAR scientists used fluorescent molecular rotors to study protein-protein interactions involving p53 and MDM2 in cells.
Thursday, July 03, 2014
Missing Protein Explains Link Between Obesity and Diabetes
A*STAR scientists pioneered a molecular connection between the two health conditions.
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Scientists Find a Promising Way To Boost The Body’s Immune Surveillance Via p53
Researchers at A*STAR have discovered a new mechanism involving p53, the famous tumour suppressor, to fight against aggressive cancers.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
A*STAR Scientists Make Discovery of Cell Nucleus Structure Crucial to Understanding Diseases
Genes relocated from their correct position in the nucleus cause them to malfunction and this may lead to the heart, blood vessels and muscles breaking down.
Friday, February 08, 2013
A*STAR Scientists Discover Potential Drug for Deadly Brain Cancer
This discovery can potentially prevent the progression and relapse of deadly brain tumours.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Singapore Scientists Identify New Biomarker for Cancer in Bone Marrow
This discovery may potentially cure patients of multiple myeloma.
Friday, December 14, 2012
Breakthroughs in Chikungunya Research Spell New Hope for Better Treatment and Protection
A*STAR's SIgN have made great strides in the battle against the infectious disease.
Monday, September 24, 2012
Discovery of the Cellular Origin of Cervical Cancer
A team of scientists have identified a unique set of cells in the cervix that are the cause of HPV related cervical cancers.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Scientists Uncover Exciting Lead into Premature Ageing and Heart Disease
Scientists increase life span of mice by reducing levels of SUN1 protein.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Scientists Discover Key Component in the Mother's Egg Critical for Survival of Newly Formed Embryo
Study finds out that a protein called TRIM28 preserves 'epigenetic marks' on a specific set of genes.
Friday, March 30, 2012
Scientific News
Non-Disease Proteins Kill Brain Cells
Scientists at the forefront of cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have shown that the mere presence of protein aggregates may be as important as their form and identity in inducing cell death in brain tissue.
Closing the Loop on an HIV Escape Mechanism
Research team finds that protein motions regulate virus infectivity.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Gut Microbes Signal to the Brain When They're Full
Don't have room for dessert? The bacteria in your gut may be telling you something.
Turning up the Tap on Microbes Leads to Better Protein Patenting
Mining millions of proteins could become faster and easier with a new technique that may also transform the enzyme-catalyst industry, according to University of California, Davis, researchers.
Exploring the Causes of Cancer
Queen's research to understand the regulation of a cell surface protein involved in cancer.
Measuring microRNAs in Blood to Speed Cancer Detection
A simple, ultrasensitive microRNA sensor holds promise for the design of new diagnostic strategies and, potentially, for the prognosis and treatment of pancreatic and other cancers.
Novel Proteins Linked to Huntington's Disease
University of Florida Health researchers have made a new discovery about Huntington's disease, showing that the gene that causes the fatal disorder makes an unexpected "cocktail" of mutant proteins that accumulate in the brain.
Enzyme Critical to Maintaining Telomere Length Discovered
New method expected to speed understanding of short telomere diseases and cancer.
New Method Identifies Up to Twice as Many Proteins and Peptides
An international team of researchers developed a method that identifies up to twice as many proteins and peptides in mass spectrometry data than conventional approaches.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos