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Mol Med. 1996 September; 2(5): 556–567.
PMCID: PMC2230192

Mice expressing mutant myosin heavy chains are a model for familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.


BACKGROUND: Familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is an autosomal dominant disease characterized by ventricular hypertrophy, myocellular disarray, arrhythmias, and sudden death. Mutations in several contractile proteins, including cardiac myosin heavy chains, have been described in families with this disease, leading to the hypothesis that HCM is a disease of the sarcomere. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A mutation in the myosin heavy chain (Myh) predicted to interfere strongly with myosin's binding to actin was designed and used to create an animal model for HCM. Five independent lines of transgenic mice were produced with cardiac-specific expression of the mutant Myh. RESULTS: Although the mutant Myh represents a small proportion (1-12%) of the heart's myosin, the mice exhibit the cardiac histopathology seen in HCM patients. Histopathology is absent from the atria and primarily restricted to the left ventricle. The line exhibiting the highest level of mutant Myh expression demonstrates ventricular hypertrophy by 12 weeks of age, but the further course of the disease is strongly affected by the sex of the animal. Hypertrophy increases with age in female animals while the hearts of male show severe dilation by 8 months of age, in the absence of increased mass. CONCLUSIONS: The low levels of the transgene protein in the presence of the phenotypic features of HCM suggest that the mutant protein acts as a dominant negative. In addition, the distinct phenotypes developed by aging male or female transgenic mice suggest that extragenic factors strongly influence the development of the disease phenotype.

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