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Examining cardiac performance of tunas at the cellular level

February 4, 2004 BETHESDA, MD Are all tunas alike? It is true that they are all swift, powerful swimmers that benefit from high metabolic rates - and that in order to support these rates, they have evolved into a state of high heart rates. Consider the skipjack tuna, which has been clocked at a heart rate of over 200 beats-per-minute. But is the cardiac stamina of the cold water (endothermic) tuna, such as the bluefin, albacore and yellowfin, the same as that of its warm water (ecothermic) sister the mackerel? Why should it matter?

A research team from Stanford University's Tuna Research and Conservation Center has investigated the intrinsic differences among these tunas. Their findings suggest that a key step in the evolution of the tuna's high heart and metabolic rates is the result of an increase a key protein SERCA2. Their findings also suggest that high levels of the enzyme in the bluefish tuna's heart may be important for its ability to retain its cardiac function at cold temperatures. While a better understanding of the tuna may seem of little consequence, what researchers learn about the adaptation of these magnificent fish helps us look beyond ourselves and to appreciate the lives of those living below sea level.

A New Study

The authors of the new study, entitled "Temperature Dependence of the Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA2) in the Ventricles of Tuna and Mackerel," are Ana M. Landeira-Fernandez, Jeffery M. Morrissette, Jason M. Blank and Barbara A. Block, all of the Tuna Research and Conservation Center, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, CA. Their findings appear in the Articles in Press section of the American Journal of Physiology Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, one of 14 scientific journals published monthly by the American Physiological Society (APS) (www.the-aps.org).

Methodology

In this study, the role of Ca2+ cyclin
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
4-Feb-2004


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