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A protein has been shown to have a surprising role in regulating the 'glue' that holds heart cells together, a finding that may explain how a gene defect could cause sudden cardiac death.

A team led by Oxford University researchers was looking at how a protein, iASPP, might be involved in the growth of tumours. However, serendipitously they found that mice lacking this gene died prematurely of sudden cardiac death. More detailed investigations showed that these mice had an irregular conductance in the right side of the heart, a condition known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC).

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