Genes associated with a risk factor for sudden cardiac death are reported in a paper published online this week in Nature Genetics. The genes highlight an important role for calcium regulation in controlling heart function, and could help lead to new therapies.
Too-long an interval of time between two key points in the heart’s electrical cycle, known as the QT interval, is used by doctors to determine risk for arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death. The length of the QT interval, ranging from approximately 0.36s to 0.44s in healthy adults, is in large part determined by one’s genes.
Christopher Newton-Cheh and colleagues studied more than 100,000 individuals for genes associated with long QT interval. Among the newly reported genes, the authors report on ten genes whose protein products interact with genes that cause Long QT Syndrome, an often fatal heart disease. Moreover, Newton-Cheh and colleagues found that these genes and their interacting partners are crucial to regulating the electrical current in the heart through the control of calcium. Disruptions in calcium signalling are known to be involved in other forms of heart disease.