LeDucq grant awarded to Jolanda van der Velden

A total of €6,500,000, of which €800,000 for Amsterdam, is awarded to the LeDucq Cytoskeleton Network for research on cytoskeletal regulation of cardiomyocyte homeostasis in health and disease.

The LeDucq foundation is an international charitable organization funding collaborative research in cardiovascular disease and stroke. By forging scientific alliances that transcend national borders, and educating young researchers who thrive in an international context, they hope to promote innovation in cardiovascular and stroke research, and develop long term collaborative relationships that will allow us ultimately to change the way patients with cardiovascular and neurovascular disease are diagnosed and treated. For 2020, The Fondation Leducq Transatlantic Networks of Excellence Program awarded grants to a total of four networks of researchers working collaboratively in the areas of cardiovascular and neurovascular disease.

Cytoskeletal regulation of cardiomyocyte homeostasis in health and disease

Lucie CARRIER, University Medical Center Hamburg (Germany)(European Coordinator), Benjamin PROSSER, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania (USA) (North American Coordinator), Giulio AGNETTI, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (USA), Carolyn HO, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (USA), Izhac KEHAT, Technion Israel Institute of Technology (Israel), Kenneth MARGULIES, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania (USA), Marie-Jo MOUTIN, Grenoble Institut des Neurosciences (France), Jolanda VAN DER VELDEN, Amsterdam UMC (Netherlands)

Heart failure, the inability of the heart to pump enough blood through the body, is a consequence of a loss of heart muscle and/or a change in the properties of heart muscle cells. It is usually studied on the level of the motor proteins or their regulation by calcium. This Leducq Cytoskeleton Network (LCN) targets a component that has not received enough attention – the cytoskeleton, a structure that helps cells to maintain their shape and internal organization. It is composed of actin, microtubules and intermediate filaments and, under normal conditions, powers motor protein contraction, cargo delivery, and the disposal of waste proteins. Recent studies by the network members demonstrated that myocytes from failing human hearts have too many and abnormally modified microtubules and intermediate filaments, and revealed the enzymes involved in these modifications. This opens the unique possibility to target microtubule and intermediate filament modification to improve cardiac function. By using sophisticated ultrastructural imaging techniques and machine learning, the LCN will evaluate how the altered cytoskeleton affects cardiomyocyte contractile function as well as mRNA delivery, protein synthesis and waste disposal in heart failure. The LCN will also examine what initiates the proliferation and modification of the cytoskeleton, and whether these drivers can be targeted to prevent or reverse cardiac dysfunction and heart failure. Support by the Fondation Leducq would empower the LCN team to explore an innovative and vastly unexplored territory in the heart disease space. Two PhD students will join the team in Amsterdam.