McKelvey School of Engineering

Mechanism behind heartbeat regulation, heart function uncovered

The team’s findings suggest CaM and PIP2 facilitate the KCNQ1 cytoplasmic domain to undergo large conformational change during voltage-dependent activation to open the channel, as illustrated by the structural depiction (top left) and cartoon (bottom left) of the channel. This movement may control KCNQ1 current activation speed (blue, bottom right) to help terminate action potential (gray, top right).

Jianmin Cui, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering, and Po wei (Billy) Kang, an MD/PhD student at the School of Medicine who conducts research in Cui’s lab, led an international team that revealed new details on how two biomolecules modulate opening and closing of the KCNQ1 potassium channel. This channel is important for proper heart function and regulating heartbeat, which ranges from about 60-100 beats per minute in a normal adult.

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