Another giant protein has been detected in cross-striated muscle cells. Given the name obscurin, it was discovered in a yeast two-hybrid screen in which the bait was a small region of titin that is localized near the Z-band. Obscurin is about 720 kD, similar in molecular weight to nebulin, but present at about one tenth the level (Young et al., 2001). Like titin, obscurin contains multiple immunoglobulin-like domains linked in tandem, but in contrast to titin it contains just two fibronectin-like domains. It also contains sequences that suggest obscurin may have roles in signal transduction. During embryonic development, its localization changes from the Z-band to the M-band. With these intriguing properties, obscurin may not remain obscure for long.
Obscurin is a large (∼800-kDa), modular protein of striated muscle that concentrates around the M-bands and Z-disks of each sarcomere, where it is well positioned to sense contractile activity. Obscurin contains several signaling domains, including a rho-guanine nucleotide exchange factor (rhoGEF) domain and tandem pleckstrin homology domain, consistent with a role in rho signaling in muscle. We investigated the ability of obscurin's rhoGEF domain to interact with and activate small GTPases. Using a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches, we found that the rhoGEF domain of obscurin binds selectively to rhoA, and that rhoA colocalizes with obscurin at the M-band in skeletal muscle. Other small GTPases, including rac1 and cdc42, neither associate with the rhoGEF domain of obscurin nor concentrate at the level of the M-bands. Furthermore, overexpression of the rhoGEF domain of obscurin in adult skeletal muscle selectively increases rhoA expression and activity in this tissue. Overexpression of obscurin's rhoGEF domain and its effects on rhoA alter the expression of rho kinase and citron kinase, both of which can be activated by rhoA in other tissues. Injuries to rodent hindlimb muscles caused by large-strain lengthening contractions increases rhoA activity and displaces it from the M-bands to Z-disks, similar to the effects of overexpression of obscurin's rhoGEF domain. Our results suggest that obscurin's rhoGEF domain signals at least in part by inducing rhoA expression and activation, and altering the expression of downstream kinases in vitro and in vivo.
Assembly of specialized membrane domains, both of the plasma membrane and of the ER, is necessary for the physiological activity of striated muscle cells. The mechanisms that mediate the structural organization of the sarcoplasmic reticulum with respect to the myofibrils are, however, not known. We report here that ank1.5, a small splice variant of the ank1 gene localized on the sarcoplasmic reticulum membrane, is capable of interacting with a sequence of 25 aa located at the COOH terminus of obscurin. Obscurin is a giant sarcomeric protein of ∼800 kD that binds to titin and has been proposed to mediate interactions between myofibrils and other cellular structures. The binding sites and the critical aa required in the interaction between ank1.5 and obscurin were characterized using the yeast two-hybrid system, in in vitro pull-down assays and in experiments in heterologous cells. In differentiated skeletal muscle cells, a transfected myc-tagged ank1.5 was found to be selectively restricted near the M line region where it colocalized with endogenous obscurin. The M line localization of ank1.5 required a functional obscurin-binding site, because mutations of this domain resulted in a diffused distribution of the mutant ank1.5 protein in skeletal muscle cells. The interaction between ank1.5 and obscurin represents the first direct evidence of two proteins that may provide a direct link between the sarcoplasmic reticulum and myofibrils.
In keeping with the proposed role of obscurin in mediating an interaction with ankyrins and sarcoplasmic reticulum, we have also found that a sequence with homology to the obscurin-binding site of ank1.5 is present in the ank2.2 isoform, which in striated muscles has been also shown to associate with the sarcoplasmic reticulum. Accordingly, a peptide containing the COOH terminus of ank2.2 fused with GST was found to bind to obscurin. Based on reported evidence showing that the COOH terminus of ank2.2 is necessary for the localization of ryanodine receptors and InsP3 receptors in the sarcoplasmic reticulum, we propose that obscurin, through multiple interactions with ank1.5 and ank2.2 isoforms, may assemble a large protein complex that, in addition to a structural function, may play a role in the organization of specific subdomains in the sarcoplasmic reticulum.
sarcoplasmic reticulum; calcium release; ryanodine receptors; InsP3 receptors; endoplasmic reticulum
Obscurin and obscurin-associated kinase are two products of the obscurin transcriptional unit that encodes a recently identified giant muscle-specific protein obscurin. In this study, we characterized the developmental expression and cellular localization of obscurin and obscurin-associated kinase in cardiac muscle cells. We cloned murine obscurin-associated kinase and found that it is abundantly expressed in the heart as two isotypes encoded by 2.2 and 4.9 kb sequences. The 2.2 kb isotype of the kinase was more prominently expressed than the 4.9 kb isotype. Both obscurin and the kinase-like domains were progressively upregulated since the early stages of cardiac development. Obscurin-associated kinase was expressed at higher levels than obscurin at early stages of cardiomyogenesis. Increasing intensity of obscurin expression in the developing heart positively correlated with progressive cell differentiation and was higher in the ventricles compared to the atria. These data were supported by the results of experiments with primary cardiac cell cultures. Obscurin localization changed from a weakly immunopositive diffuse pattern in poorly differentiated cells to an intensely immunolabeled cross-striated distribution at the level of mid-A-bands and Z-disks during the assembly of the myofibrillar contractile apparatus. In dividing myocytes, unlike the interphase cells, obscurin translocated from disassembling myofibrils into a diffuse granulated pattern segregated separately from α-actinini-mmunopositive aggregates. Obscurin-associated kinase was localized mainly to cell nuclei with increasing incorporation into the Z-disks during differentiation. Our results suggest that these two novel proteins are involved in the progression of cardiac myogenesis during the transition to advanced stages of heart development.
muscle; myofibrils; heart; obscurin; development; mitosis; cardiac myocytes
Obscurin is a recently identified giant multidomain muscle protein whose functions remain poorly understood. The goal of this study was to investigate the process of assembly of obscurin into nascent sarcomeres during the transition from non-striated myofibril precursors to striated structure of differentiating myofibrils in cell cultures of neonatal rat cardiac myocytes. Double immunofluorescent labeling and high resolution confocal microscopy demonstrated intense incorporation of obscurin in the areas of transition from non-striated to striated regions on the tips of developing myofibrils and at the sites of lateral fusion of nascent sarcomere bundles. We found that obscurin rapidly and precisely accumulated in the middle of the A-band regions of the terminal newly assembled half-sarcomeres in the zones of transition from the continuous, non-striated pattern of sarcomeric α-actinin distribution to cross-striated structure of laterally expanding nascent Z-discs. The striated pattern of obscurin typically ended at these points. This occurred before the assembly of morphologically differentiated terminal Z-discs of the assembling sarcomeres on the tips of growing myofibrils. The presence of obscurin in the areas of the terminal Z-discs of each new sarcomere was detected at the same time or shortly after complete assembly of sarcomeric structure. Many non-striated fibers with very low concentration of obscurin were already immunopositive for sarcomeric actin and myosin. This suggests that obscurin may serve for organization and alignment of myofilaments into the striated pattern. The comparison of obscurin and titin localization in these areas showed that obscurin assembly into the A-bands occurred soon after or concomitantly with incorporation of titin. Electron microscopy of growing myofibrils demonstrated intense formation and integration of myosin filaments into the “open” half-assembled sarcomeres in the areas of the terminal Z–I structures and at the lateral surfaces of newly formed, terminally located nascent sarcomeres. This process progressed before the assembly of the second-formed, terminal Z-discs of new sarcomeres and before the development of ultrastructurally detectable mature M-lines that define the completion of myofibril assembly, which supports the data of immunocytochemical study. Abundant non-aligned sarcomeres in immature myofibrils located on the growing tips were spatially separated and underwent the transition to the registered, aligned pattern. The sarcoplasmic reticulum, the organelle known to interact with obscurin, assembled around each new sarcomere. These results suggest that obscurin is directly involved in the proper positioning and alignment of myofilaments within nascent sarcomeres and in the establishment of the registered pattern of newly assembled myofibrils and the sarcoplasmic reticulum at advanced stages of myofibrillogenesis.
Cardiac myocytes; Myofibrillogenesis; Myosin; Obscurin; Sarcomere; Sarcoplasmic reticulum; Z-disks
The factors that organize the internal membranes of cells are still poorly understood. We have been addressing this question using striated muscle cells, which have regular arrays of membranes that associate with the contractile apparatus in stereotypic patterns. Here we examine links between contractile structures and the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) established by small ankyrin 1 (sAnk1), a ∼17.5-kDa integral protein of network SR. We used yeast two-hybrid to identify obscurin, a giant Rho-GEF protein, as the major cytoplasmic ligand for sAnk1. The binding of obscurin to the cytoplasmic sequence of sAnk1 is mediated by a sequence of obscurin that is C-terminal to its last Ig-like domain. Binding was confirmed in two in vitro assays. In one, GST-obscurin, bound to glutathione-matrix, specifically adsorbed native sAnk1 from muscle homogenates. In the second, MBP-obscurin bound recombinant GST-sAnk1 in nitrocellulose blots. Kinetic studies using surface plasmon resonance yielded a KD = 130 nM. On subcellular fractionation, obscurin was concentrated in the myofibrillar fraction, consistent with its identification as sarcomeric protein. Nevertheless, obscurin, like sAnk1, concentrated around Z-disks and M-lines of striated muscle. Our findings suggest that obscurin binds sAnk1, and are the first to document a specific and direct interaction between proteins of the sarcomere and the SR.
We used four antibodies to regions of obscurin isoforms A and B, encoded by the obscurin gene, to investigate the location of these proteins in skeletal myofibers at resting and stretched lengths. Obscurin A (~800kDa) which was recognized by antibodies generated to the N-terminal, Rho-GEF, and the non-modular C-terminal domain that lacks the kinase-like domains, localizes at the level of the M-band. Obscurin B (~900kDa) which has the N-terminal, Rho-GEF, and the C-terminal kinase-like domains, localizes at the level of the A/I junction. Additional isoforms, which lack one or more of these epitopes, are present at the Z-disk and Z/I junction.
obscurin; I-band; Z-disk; M-line; stretch
Obscurin is an ∼800-kDa protein composed of structural and signaling domains that organizes contractile structures in striated muscle. We have studied the Rho-GEF domain of obscurin to understand its roles in morphogenesis and signaling. We used adenoviral overexpression of this domain, together with ultrastructural and immunofluorescence methods, to examine its effect on maturing myofibrils. We report that overexpression of the Rho-GEF domain specifically inhibits the incorporation of titin into developing Z-disks and disrupts the structure of the Z-disk and Z/I junction, and alters features of the A/I junction. The organization of other sarcomeric markers, including α-actinin, was not affected. We identified Ran binding protein 9 (RanBP9) as a novel ligand of the Rho-GEF domain and showed that binding is specific, with an apparent binding affinity of 1.9 μM. Overexpression of the binding region of RanBP9 also disrupted the incorporation of titin into developing Z-disks. Immunofluorescence localization during myofibrillogenesis indicated that the Rho-GEF domain assembles into sarcomeres before RanBP9, which first occurs in myonuclei and later in development translocates to the myoplasm, where it colocalizes with obscurin. Both the Rho-GEF domain and its binding region on RanBP9 bind directly to the N-terminal Ig domains of titin, which flank the Z-disk. Our results suggest that the Rho-GEF domain interacts with RanBP9 and that both can interact with the N-terminal region of titin to influence the formation of the Z-disk and A/I junction.
Myofibrillogenesis in striated muscles is a highly complex process that depends on the coordinated assembly and integration of a large number of contractile, cytoskeletal, and signaling proteins into regular arrays, the sarcomeres. It is also associated with the stereotypical assembly of the sarcoplasmic reticulum and the transverse tubules around each sarcomere. Three giant, muscle-specific proteins, titin (3–4 MDa), nebulin (600–800 kDa), and obscurin (~720–900 kDa), have been proposed to play important roles in the assembly and stabilization of sarcomeres. There is a large amount of data showing that each of these molecules interacts with several to many different protein ligands, regulating their activity and localizing them to particular sites within or surrounding sarcomeres. Consistent with this, mutations in each of these proteins have been linked to skeletal and cardiac myopathies or to muscular dystrophies. The evidence that any of them plays a role as a “molecular template,” “molecular blueprint,” or “molecular ruler” is less definitive, however. Here we review the structure and function of titin, nebulin, and obscurin, with the literature supporting a role for them as scaffolding molecules and the contradictory evidence regarding their roles as molecular guides in sarcomerogenesis.
Obscurin is a giant structural and signaling protein that participates in the assembly and structural integrity of striated myofibrils. Previous work has examined the physical interactions between obscurin and other cytoskeletal elements but its in vivo role in cell signaling, including the functions of its RhoGTPase Exchange Factor (RhoGEF) domain have not been characterized. In this study, morpholino antisense oligonucleotides were used to create an in-frame deletion of the active site of the obscurin A RhoGEF domain in order to examine its functions in zebrafish development. Cardiac myocytes in the morphant embryos lacked the intercalated disks that were present in controls by 72 hpf and, in the more severely affected embryos, the contractile filaments were not organized into mature sarcomeres. Neural abnormalities included delay or loss of retinal lamination. Rescue of the phenotype with co-injection of mini-obscurin A expression constructs demonstrated that the observed effects were due to the loss of small GTPase activation by obscurin A. The immature phenotype of the cardiac myocytes and the retinal neuroblasts observed in the morphant embryos suggests that obscurin A-mediated small GTPase signaling promotes tissue-specific cellular differentiation. This is the first demonstration of the importance of the obscurin A-mediated RhoGEF signaling in vertebrate organogenesis and highlights the central role of obscurin A in striated muscle and neural development.
The contractile activity of striated muscle depends on myofibrils that are highly ordered macromolecular complexes. The protein components of myofibrils are well characterized, but it remains largely unclear how signaling at the molecular level within the sarcomere and the control of assembly are coordinated. We show that the Rho GTPase TC10 appears during differentiation of human primary skeletal myoblasts and it is active in differentiated myotubes. We identify obscurin, a sarcomere-associated protein, as a specific activator of TC10. Indeed, TC10 binds directly to obscurin via its predicted RhoGEF motif. Importantly, we demonstrate that obscurin is a specific activator of TC10 but not the Rho GTPases Rac and Cdc42. Finally, we show that inhibition of TC10 activity by expression of a dominant-negative mutant or its knockdown by expression of specific shRNA block myofibril assembly. Our findings reveal a novel signaling pathway in human skeletal muscle that involves obscurin and the Rho GTPase TC10 and implicate this pathway in new sarcomere formation.
Cell Differentiation; Cells, Cultured; Enzyme Activation; Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors; chemistry; metabolism; Humans; Muscle Fibers, Skeletal; cytology; enzymology; Muscle Proteins; chemistry; metabolism; Myofibrils; enzymology; Organogenesis; Phosphorylation; Protein Binding; Protein Structure, Tertiary; RNA, Small Interfering; metabolism; Sarcomeres; enzymology; metabolism; p21-Activated Kinases; metabolism; rho GTP-Binding Proteins; antagonists & inhibitors; metabolism; Myofibrillogenesis; Rho GTPase; Obscurin
Obscurin is a multidomain protein composed of adhesion and signaling domains that plays key roles in the organization of contractile and membrane structures in striated muscles. Overexpression of the second immunoglobulin domain of obscurin (Ig2) in developing myotubes inhibits the assembly of A- and M-bands, but not Z-disks or I-bands. This effect is mediated by the direct interaction of the Ig2 domain of obscurin with a novel isoform of myosin binding protein-C slow (MyBP-C slow), corresponding to variant-1. Variant-1 contains all the structural motifs present in the known forms of MyBP-C slow, but it has a unique COOH terminus. Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction indicated that MyBP-C slow variant-1 is expressed in skeletal muscles both during development and at maturity. Immunolabeling of skeletal myofibers with antibodies to the unique COOH terminus of variant-1 demonstrated that, unlike other forms of MyBP-C slow that reside in the C-zones of A-bands, variant-1 preferentially concentrates around M-bands, where it codistributes with obscurin. Overexpression of the Ig2 domain of obscurin or reduction of expression of obscurin inhibited the integration of variant-1 into forming M-bands in skeletal myotubes. Collectively, our experiments identify a new ligand of obscurin at the M-band, MyBP-C slow variant-1 and suggest that their interaction contributes to the assembly of M- and A-bands.
Abstract. Titin (also known as connectin) is a giant protein that spans half of the striated muscle sarcomere. In the I-band titin extends as the sarcomere is stretched, developing what is known as passive force. The I-band region of titin contains tandem Ig segments (consisting of serially linked immunoglobulin-like domains) with the unique PEVK segment in between (Labeit, S., and B. Kolmerer. 1995. Science. 270:293–296). Although the tandem Ig and PEVK segments have been proposed to behave as stiff and compliant springs, respectively, precise experimental testing of the hypothesis is still needed. Here, sequence-specific antibodies were used to mark the ends of the tandem Ig and PEVK segments. By following the extension of the segments as a function of sarcomere length (SL), their respective contributions to titin's elastic behavior were established. In slack sarcomeres (∼2.0 μm) the tandem Ig and PEVK segments were contracted. Upon stretching sarcomeres from ∼2.0 to 2.7 μm, the “contracted” tandem Ig segments straightened while their individual Ig domains remained folded. When sarcomeres were stretched beyond ∼2.7 μm, the tandem Ig segments did not further extend, instead PEVK extension was now dominant. Modeling tandem Ig and PEVK segments as entropic springs with different bending rigidities (Kellermayer, M., S. Smith, H. Granzier, and C. Bustamante. 1997. Science. 276:1112–1116) indicated that in the physiological SL range (a) the Ig-like domains of the tandem Ig segments remain folded and (b) the PEVK segment behaves as a permanently unfolded polypeptide. Our model provides a molecular basis for the sequential extension of titin's different segments. Initially, the tandem Ig segments extend at low forces due to their high bending rigidity. Subsequently, extension of the PEVK segment occurs only upon reaching sufficiently high external forces due to its low bending rigidity. The serial linking of tandem Ig and PEVK segments with different bending rigidities provides a unique passive force–SL relation that is not achievable with a single elastic segment.
Small ankyrin 1 (sAnk1; also Ank1.5) is an integral protein of the sarcoplasmic reticulum in skeletal and cardiac muscle cells, where it is thought to bind to the C-terminal region of obscurin, a large modular protein that surrounds the contractile apparatus. Using fusion proteins in vitro, in combination with site directed mutagenesis and surface plasmon resonance measurements, we previously showed that the binding site on sAnk1 for obscurin consists in part of six lysine and arginine residues. Here we show that four charged residues in the high affinity binding site on obscurin for sAnk1, between residues 6316-6345, consisting of three glutamates and a lysine, are necessary, but not sufficient, for this site on obscurin to bind with high affinity to sAnk1. We also identify specific complementary mutations in sAnk1 that can partially or completely compensate for the changes in binding caused by charge-switching mutations in obscurin. We used molecular modeling to develop structural models of residues 6322-6339 of obscurin bound to sAnk1. The models, based on a combination of Brownian and molecular dynamics simulations, predict that the binding site on sAnk1 for obscurin is organized as two ankyrin-like repeats, with the last α-helical segment oriented at an angle to the nearby helices, allowing lysine-6338 of obscurin to form an ionic interaction with aspartate-111 of sAnk1. This prediction was validated by double mutant cycle experiments. Our results are consistent with a model in which electrostatic interactions between specific pairs of side chains on obscurin and sAnk1 promote binding and complex formation.
Small Ankyrin 1; Obscurin; protein-protein interaction; molecular dynamics simulation; Brownian dynamics simulation
Cytoskeletal adaptor proteins serve vital functions in linking the internal cytoskeleton of cells to the cell membrane, particularly at sites of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. The importance of these adaptors to the structural integrity of the cell is evident from the number of clinical disease states attributable to defects in these networks. In the heart, defects in the cytoskeletal support system that surrounds and supports the myofibril result in dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. In this study, we report the cloning and characterization of a novel cytoskeletal adaptor, Obscurin-Like 1 (OBSL1), which is closely related to obscurin, a giant structural protein required for sarcomere assembly. Multiple isoforms arise from alternative splicing, ranging in predicted molecular weight from 130 to 230 kD. OBSL1 is located on human chromosome 2q35 within 100 kb of SPEG, another gene related to obscurin. It is expressed in a broad range of tissues and localizes to the intercalated discs, the perinuclear region, and overlying the Z lines and M bands of adult rat cardiac myocytes. Further characterization of this novel cytoskeletal linker will have important implications for understanding the physical interactions that stabilize and support cell-matrix, cell-cell and intracellular cytoskeletal connections.
Obscurin; obscurin-like 1; SPEG; intercalated disc; Z line; M band; cytoskeleton
During development, skeletal myoblasts differentiate into myocytes and skeletal myotubes with mature contractile structures that are precisely oriented with respect to surrounding cells and tissues. Establishment of this highly ordered structure requires reciprocal interactions between the differentiating myocytes and the surrounding extracellular matrix to form correctly positioned and well-organized attachments from the skeletal muscle to the bony skeleton. Using the developing zebrafish embryo as a model, we examined the relationship between new myofibril assembly and the organization of the membrane domains involved in cell-extracellular matrix interactions. We determined that depletion of obscurin, a giant muscle protein, resulted in irregular cell morphology and disturbed extracellular matrix organization during skeletal muscle development. The resulting impairment of myocyte organization was associated with disturbance of the internal architecture of the myocyte suggesting that obscurin participates in organizing the internal structure of the myocyte and translating those structural cues to surrounding cells and tissues.
Calcium, a ubiquitous intracellular signaling molecule, controls a diverse array of cellular processes. Consequently, cells have developed strategies to modulate the shape of calcium signals in space and time. The force generating machinery in muscle is regulated by the influx and efflux of calcium ions into the muscle cytoplasm. In order for efficient and effective muscle contraction to occur, calcium needs to be rapidly, accurately and reliably regulated. The mechanisms underlying this highly regulated process are not fully understood. Here, we show that the Caenorhabditis elegans homolog of the giant muscle protein obscurin, UNC-89, is required for normal muscle cell architecture. The large immunoglobulin domain-rich isoforms of UNC-89 are critical for sarcomere and sarcoplasmic reticulum organization. Furthermore, we have found evidence that this structural organization is crucial for excitation-contraction coupling in the body wall muscle, through the coordination of calcium signaling. Thus, our data implicates UNC-89 in maintaining muscle cell architecture and that this precise organization is essential for optimal calcium mobilization and efficient and effective muscle contraction.
Obscurin contributes to the organization of subsarcolemma microtubules, localization of dystrophin at costameres, and maintenance of sarcolemmal integrity in skeletal muscle fibers.
Obscurin is a large myofibrillar protein that contains several interacting modules, one of which mediates binding to muscle-specific ankyrins. Interaction between obscurin and the muscle-specific ankyrin sAnk1.5 regulates the organization of the sarcoplasmic reticulum in striated muscles. Additional muscle-specific ankyrin isoforms, ankB and ankG, are localized at the subsarcolemma level, at which they contribute to the organization of dystrophin and β-dystroglycan at costameres. In this paper, we report that in mice deficient for obscurin, ankB was displaced from its localization at the M band, whereas localization of ankG at the Z disk was not affected. In obscurin KO mice, localization at costameres of dystrophin, but not of β-dystroglycan, was altered, and the subsarcolemma microtubule cytoskeleton was disrupted. In addition, these mutant mice displayed marked sarcolemmal fragility and reduced muscle exercise tolerance. Altogether, the results support a model in which obscurin, by targeting ankB at the M band, contributes to the organization of subsarcolemma microtubules, localization of dystrophin at costameres, and maintenance of sarcolemmal integrity.
Titin is a giant elastic protein in vertebrate striated muscles with an unprecedented molecular mass of 3–4 megadaltons. Single molecules of titin extend from the Z-line to the M-line. Here, we define the molecular layout of titin within the Z-line; the most NH2-terminal 30 kD of titin is located at the periphery of the Z-line at the border of the adjacent sarcomere, whereas the subsequent 60 kD of titin spans the entire width of the Z-line. In vitro binding studies reveal that mammalian titins have at least four potential binding sites for α-actinin within their Z-line spanning region. Titin filaments may specify Z-line width and internal structure by varying the length of their NH2-terminal overlap and number of α-actinin binding sites that serve to cross-link the titin and thin filaments. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the NH2-terminal titin Ig repeats Z1 and Z2 in the periphery of the Z-line bind to a novel 19-kD protein, referred to as titin-cap. Using dominant-negative approaches in cardiac myocytes, both the titin Z1-Z2 domains and titin-cap are shown to be required for the structural integrity of sarcomeres, suggesting that their interaction is critical in titin filament–regulated sarcomeric assembly.
titin; α-actinin; Z-disc; titin-cap (T-cap); sarcomere
Titin is a giant filamentous protein traversing the half sarcomere of striated muscle with putative functions as diverse as providing structural template, generating elastic response, and sensing and relaying mechanical information. The Z-disk region of titin, which corresponds to the N-terminal end of the molecule, has been thought to be a hot spot for mechanosensing while also serving as anchorage for its sarcomeric attachment. Understanding the mechanics of titin's Z-disk region, particularly under the effect of binding proteins, is of great interest. Here we briefly review recent findings on the structure, molecular associations, and mechanics of titin's Z-disk region. In addition, we report experimental results on the dynamic strength of titin's Z1Z2 domains measured by nanomechanical manipulation of the chemical dimer of a recombinant protein fragment.
Titin, the giant elastic ruler protein of striated muscle sarcomeres, contains a catalytic kinase domain related to a family of intrasterically regulated protein kinases. The most extensively studied member of this branch of the human kinome is the Ca2+–calmodulin (CaM)-regulated myosin light-chain kinases (MLCK). However, not all kinases of the MLCK branch are functional MLCKs, and about half lack a CaM binding site in their C-terminal autoinhibitory tail (AI). A unifying feature is their association with the cytoskeleton, mostly via actin and myosin filaments. Titin kinase, similar to its invertebrate analogue twitchin kinase and likely other “MLCKs”, is not Ca2+–calmodulin-activated. Recently, local protein unfolding of the C-terminal AI has emerged as a common mechanism in the activation of CaM kinases. Single-molecule data suggested that opening of the TK active site could also be achieved by mechanical unfolding of the AI. Mechanical modulation of catalytic activity might thus allow cytoskeletal signalling proteins to act as mechanosensors, creating feedback mechanisms between cytoskeletal tension and tension generation or cellular remodelling. Similar to other MLCK-like kinases like DRAK2 and DAPK1, TK is linked to protein turnover regulation via the autophagy/lysosomal system, suggesting the MLCK-like kinases have common functions beyond contraction regulation.
Sarcomere; Mechanical strain sensor; Mechanobiology; Titin; Connectin; Twitchin; Myosin light-chain kinase; Autophagy; Obscurin; Myomesin; Nbr1; p62/SQSTM1; MURF; Telethonin/TCAP
Airway remodeling and exacerbated airway narrowing in asthma have been attributed to the regulation of intracellular Ca2+ by sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) of the airway smooth muscle cells. The protein encoded by obscurin, cytoskeletal calmodulin and titin-interacting RhoGEF (OBSCN) is a crucial factor in determining the SR architecture in Obscn−/− mice. This study genotyped a total of 55 common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 592 Korean asthmatics including 163 aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) cases and 429 aspirin-tolerant asthma (ATA) controls. Eight SNPs, including two nonsynonymous polymorphisms rs1188722C>T (Leu2116Phe) and rs1188729G>C (Cys4642Ser), and one haplotype BL2_ht1 showed statistically significant associations with AERD development (p=0.003–0.03). Two variants, rs1188722C>T (Leu2116Phe) and rs369252C>A, also revealed nominal association with FEV1 decline by aspirin provocation in asthmatics (p=0.03–0.04). Intriguingly, rs1188722C>T (Leu2116Phe) is a highly conserved amino acid residue among species, suggesting its functional relevance to AERD. In addition, the A allele of rs369252C>A, which was more prevalent in AERD than in ATA, was predicted as a potential branch point (BP) site for alternative splicing (BP score=4.29). Although further functional evaluation is required, our findings suggest that OBSCN polymorphisms, in particular, highly conserved nonsynonymous Leu2116Phe variant, might contribute to aspirin hypersensitivity in asthmatics.
All striated muscles respond to stretch by a delayed increase in tension. This physiological response known as stretch-activation is, however, predominately found in vertebrate cardiac muscle and insect asynchronous flight muscles. Stretch-activation relies on an elastic third filament system composed of giant proteins known as titin in vertebrates or kettin and projectin in insects. The projectin insect protein functions jointly as a ‘scaffold and ruler’ system during myofibril assembly, and as an elastic protein during stretch activation. An evolutionary analysis of the projectin molecule could potentially provide insight into how distinct protein regions may have evolved in response to different evolutionary constraints. We mined candidate genes in representative insect species from Hemiptera to Diptera, from published and novel genome sequence data and carried out a detailed molecular and phylogenetic analysis. The general domain organization of projectin is highly conserved, as are the protein sequences of its two repeated regions—the Immunoglobulin type C and Fibronectin type III domains. The conservation in structure and sequence is consistent with the proposed function of projectin as a scaffold and ruler. In contrast, the amino acid sequences of the elastic PEVK domains are noticeably divergent although their length and overall unusual amino acid makeup are conserved. These patterns suggest that the PEVK region working as an unstructured domain can still maintain its dynamic, and even its three-dimensional properties, without the need for strict amino acid conservation. Phylogenetic analysis of the projectin proteins also supports a reclassification of the Hymenoptera in relation to Diptera and Coleoptera
projectin; titin; elastic protein; modular protein; muscle; flight; insect evolution; PEVK
Assembly of the higher-order structure of mitotic chromosomes is a prerequisite for proper chromosome condensation, segregation and integrity. Understanding the details of this process has been limited because very few proteins involved in the assembly of chromosome structure have been discovered. Using a human autoimmune scleroderma serum that identifies a chromosomal protein in human cells and Drosophila embryos, we cloned the corresponding Drosophila gene that encodes the homologue of vertebrate titin based on protein size, sequence similarity, developmental expression and subcellular localization. Titin is a giant sarcomeric protein responsible for the elasticity of striated muscle that may also function as a molecular scaffold for myofibrillar assembly. Molecular analysis and immunostaining with antibodies to multiple titin epitopes indicates that the chromosomal and muscle forms of titin may vary in their NH2 termini. The identification of titin as a chromosomal component provides a molecular basis for chromosome structure and elasticity.
The giant protein titin is thought to play major roles in the assembly and function of muscle sarcomeres. Structural details, such as widths of Z- and M-lines and periodicities in the thick filaments, correlate with the substructure in the respective regions of the titin molecule. Sarcomere rest length, its operating range of lengths, and passive elastic properties are also directly controlled by the properties of titin. Here we review some recent titin data and discuss its implications for sarcomere architecture and elasticity.