There is no life without a heart. And none without a beat. Which is why the heart is one of the first organs to be formed - albeit in a rudimentary fashion - very early on in life; as early as two weeks in the human embryo which, at that point, bears little resemblance to a human being. The heart is such a vital part of us that it has been a symbol of life for millennia, as it has of love, because so many of our emotions pass through it, either making it flutter, skip a beat or beat faster. It is so central that a lot of time, thought and energy is put into keeping a heart pulsing, be it during an operation or following cardiac arrest. Some hearts are also born lazy, which can be seriously disabling. Pacemakers are an answer to this, but they are artificial so have their drawbacks. A biological alternative, however, known as T-box transcription factor Tbx18, could prove to be revolutionary in the near future.
More from Protein Spotlight
Tales From A Small World
Tales From A Small World is a collection of the first hundred articles which originally appeared on this site. Published in September 2009, the book is enriched by poems from the Dublin poet, Pat Ingoldsby. Learn more and order your copy online.
Journey Into A Tiny World
« Globin and Poietin set out to save Lily's life. But time is running short and they can't find the marrow... Here is the tale of their courage, fun and laughter on a journey that takes them deep into the tiniest of worlds.» For children. Learn more and order your copy online.
Snapshot : Sonic hedgehog protein
Animals have such a keen sense of smell that in most instances they are literally led by their noses. In humans, however, such a sense seems to be more of a luxury than a necessity. Despite this, the mechanisms underlying human olfactory perception have been under close scrutiny for decades. Indeed, one part of our brain – the olfactive bulb – which is in effect the relay between our nose and our brain happens to be supplied with brand-new neurons on a daily basis.
A little bit of praise!
“I recently stumbled upon your columns. Let me congratulate you on achieving the near impossible, for your articles have enabled me to successfully marry IT with the Life Sciences and better explain the concepts of bioinformatics to those who are not in the know of the field.
Your articles are very well written, lucid, and contain just enough information to excite the reader to want to learn more about the topic being discussed. They fall in a very rare category where they are accessible to everyone, from the undergraduate students to research students who want to have a basic idea of the topics being discussed. Some of your articles, like "Our hollow architecture" and "Throb" are outstanding pieces.
I would highly recommend your articles as a necessary reading in undergrad classes to get students inspired about the various avenues of research.”