Researchers have developed a detailed¬†molecular explanation for a factor that may contribute to the so-called cystic fibrosis (CF) “gender gap,” reports Science Daily.

The researchers used sophisticated techniques, including nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, electrophysiology, and computational modeling, to create the first three-dimensional model for how estrogen, by interfering with the KCNE3/KCNQ1 complex, disrupts channel function.

In the heart, mutations in the regulation of the same potassium ion channel are associated with long QT syndrome, which increases the risk of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias.

“The model of the channel that we developed can now also be applied to long QT syndrome and other disorders that are associated with this channel,”¬†Charles Sanders, PhD, said.

Sanders, one of the paper’s three corresponding (senior) authors, said the paper “illustrates the power of the integrative approach to structural biology, which has been whole-heartedly championed by Vanderbilt’s Center for Structural Biology.”

“It relies heavily on experimental work using NMR spectroscopy, biochemistry, electrophysiology and a very heavy dose of computational modeling,” he added. “Without all of these things coming together, this project would not have happened.”

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