Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have described a missing link in understanding how damage to the body's cellular power plants leads to Parkinson's disease and, perhaps surprisingly, to some forms of heart failure.
These cellular power plants are called mitochondria. They manufacture the energy the cell requires to perform its many duties. And while heart and brain tissue may seem entirely different in form and function, one vital characteristic they share is a massive need for fuel.
Working in mouse and fruit fly hearts, the researchers found that a protein known as mitofusin 2 (Mfn2) is the long-sought missing link in the chain of events that control mitochondrial quality.
The findings are reported April 26 in the journal Science. The video clip of an echocardiogram shows a normal mouse heart.