January 31, 2007
Contact: Melissa Campbell
Phone: (973) 972-4564
At Case Western:
Experts Shed New Light on the Surprising Mode
of Nitric Oxide and Carbon Monoxide in Cardiovascular Disease
NEWARK — Researchers from UMDNJ’s New Jersey Medical School and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have joined forces to uncover the surprising mode of action of two toxic gases - nitric oxide and carbon monoxide - on the regulation of blood pressure.
Annie Beuve, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pharmacology and Physiology at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and Focco van den Akker, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biochemistry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine collaborated on a study that appears in the January 24 issue of The EMBO Journal, the academic publication of the European Molecular Biology Organization, which is published by Nature Publishing Group.
The paper elucidates the means by which nitric oxide and carbon monoxide bind to a protein called soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC), which is critical in the formation of another protein, cGMP, which induces the relaxation of blood vessels. Disturbance in this process is responsible for many cardiovascular diseases including hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and erectile dysfunction. Understanding this process will help develop new strategies for the clinical treatment of these diseases which affect more than 50 million Americans.
This novel discovery was only made possible through collaboration; Dr. van den Akker is an expert in revealing the three-dimensional structure of protein molecules, while Dr. Beuve is an expert in nitric oxide signaling and its receptor.
The authors note that nitric oxide is one of the smallest molecules in our body yet its physiological importance is tremendous and has led to the 1998 Nobel Prize for research uncovering its signaling role. Their findings reveal that nitric oxide and carbon monoxide shift and bend part of the main receptor sGC, which is key to understanding blood pressure regulation and is thus of major pharmaceutical interest.
The paper, “NO and CO differentially activate soluble guanylyl cuclase via a heme pivot-bend mechanism,” appears in the January 24 issue of The EMBO Journal; 26 (2):578-88.
About the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.
About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and 12th largest among the nation’s medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. Eleven Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the school.
The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching and in 2002, became the third medical school in history to receive a pre-eminent review from the national body responsible for accrediting the nation’s academic medical institutions. The School’s innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century.
Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 600 M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News and World Report Guide to Graduate Education.
The School of Medicine’s primary clinical affiliate is University Hospitals Case Medical Center and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002. http://casemed.case.edu/