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1.  Obscurins: Goliaths and Davids Take over Non-Muscle Tissues 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88162.
Obscurins comprise a family of proteins originally identified in striated muscles, where they play essential roles in myofibrillogenesis, cytoskeletal organization, and Ca2+ homeostasis. They are encoded by the single OBSCN gene, and are composed of tandem adhesion domains and signaling motifs. To date, two giant obscurin isoforms have been described in detail that differ only at the extreme COOH-terminus; while obscurin-A (∼720 kDa) contains a non-modular COOH-terminus that harbors binding sites for the adaptor proteins ankyrins, obscurin-B (∼870 kDa) contains two COOH-terminal serine-threonine kinase domains preceded by adhesion motifs. Besides the two known giant obscurins, a thorough search of transcript databases suggests that complex alternative splicing of the obscurin transcript results in the generation of additional giant as well as small isoforms with molecular masses ranging between ∼50–970 kDa. These novel isoforms share common domains with the characterized isoforms, but also contain unique regions. Using a panel of highly specific antibodies directed against epitopes spanning the entire length of giant obscurins, we employed western blotting and immunohistochemistry to perform a systematic and comprehensive characterization of the expression profile of obscurins in muscle and non-muscle tissues. Our studies demonstrate for the first time that obscurins are not restricted to striated muscles, but are abundantly expressed in several tissues and organs including brain, skin, kidney, liver, spleen, and lung. While some obscurin isoforms are ubiquitously expressed, others are preferentially present in specific tissues and organs. Moreover, obscurins are present in select structures and cell types where they assume nuclear, cytosolic, and membrane distributions. Given the ubiquitous expression of some obscurins, along with the preferential expression of others, it becomes apparent that obscurins may play common and unique roles, respectively, in the regulation and maintenance of cell homeostasis in various tissues and organs throughout the body.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088162
PMCID: PMC3916441  PMID: 24516603
2.  Early incorporation of obscurin into nascent sarcomeres: implication for myofibril assembly during cardiac myogenesis 
Histochemistry and cell biology  2008;129(4):463-478.
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.
doi:10.1007/s00418-008-0378-y
PMCID: PMC2761667  PMID: 18219491
Cardiac myocytes; Myofibrillogenesis; Myosin; Obscurin; Sarcomere; Sarcoplasmic reticulum; Z-disks
3.  The Rho-Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factor Domain of Obscurin Activates RhoA Signaling in Skeletal Muscle 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(17):3905-3917.
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.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E08-10-1029
PMCID: PMC2735489  PMID: 19605563
4.  Binding of an ankyrin-1 isoform to obscurin suggests a molecular link between the sarcoplasmic reticulum and myofibrils in striated muscles 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;160(2):245-253.
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.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200208109
PMCID: PMC2172649  PMID: 12527750
sarcoplasmic reticulum; calcium release; ryanodine receptors; InsP3 receptors; endoplasmic reticulum
5.  Targeted deletion of the zebrafish obscurin A RhoGEF domain affects heart, skeletal muscle and brain development 
Developmental biology  2009;337(2):432.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.11.018
PMCID: PMC2819229  PMID: 19931525
6.  The Rho-Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factor Domain of Obscurin Regulates Assembly of Titin at the Z-Disk through Interactions with Ran Binding Protein 9 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2008;19(9):3782-3792.
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.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E08-03-0237
PMCID: PMC2526693  PMID: 18579686
7.  Obscurin Is a Ligand for Small Ankyrin 1 in Skeletal Muscle 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2003;14(3):1138-1148.
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.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E02-07-0411
PMCID: PMC151585  PMID: 12631729
8.  Developmental Expression and Differential Cellular Localization of Obscurin and Obscurin-Associated Kinase in Cardiac Muscle Cells 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2008;103(5):1621-1635.
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.
doi:10.1002/jcb.21551
PMCID: PMC2833968  PMID: 18041765
muscle; myofibrils; heart; obscurin; development; mitosis; cardiac myocytes
9.  Fishing out proteins that bind to titin 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;154(1):21-24.
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.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200106072
PMCID: PMC2196855  PMID: 11448986
10.  Muscle Giants: Molecular Scaffolds in Sarcomerogenesis 
Physiological reviews  2009;89(4):1217-1267.
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.
doi:10.1152/physrev.00017.2009
PMCID: PMC3076733  PMID: 19789381
11.  Structure of giant muscle proteins 
Giant muscle proteins (e.g., titin, nebulin, and obscurin) play a seminal role in muscle elasticity, stretch response, and sarcomeric organization. Each giant protein consists of multiple tandem structural domains, usually arranged in a modular fashion spanning 500 kDa to 4 MDa. Although many of the domains are similar in structure, subtle differences create a unique function of each domain. Recent high and low resolution structural and dynamic studies now suggest more nuanced overall protein structures than previously realized. These findings show that atomic structure, interactions between tandem domains, and intrasarcomeric environment all influence the shape, motion, and therefore function of giant proteins. In this article we will review the current understanding of titin, obscurin, and nebulin structure, from the atomic level through the molecular level.
doi:10.3389/fphys.2013.00368
PMCID: PMC3859903  PMID: 24376425
titin; nebulin; obscurin; immunoglobulin; fibronectin type III; structure
12.  Obscurin Interacts with a Novel Isoform of MyBP-C Slow at the Periphery of the Sarcomeric M-Band and Regulates Thick Filament Assembly 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(12):2963-2978.
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.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E08-12-1251
PMCID: PMC2695803  PMID: 19403693
13.  Electrostatic Interactions Mediate Binding of Obscurin to Small Ankyrin 1: Biochemical and Molecular Modeling Studies 
Journal of Molecular Biology  2011;408(2):321-334.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2011.01.053
PMCID: PMC3367564  PMID: 21333652
Small Ankyrin 1; Obscurin; protein-protein interaction; molecular dynamics simulation; Brownian dynamics simulation
14.  Different obscurin isoforms localize to distinct sites at sarcomeres 
FEBS letters  2007;581(8):1549-1554.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.febslet.2007.03.011
PMCID: PMC1899168  PMID: 17382936
obscurin; I-band; Z-disk; M-line; stretch
15.  Obscurin and KCTD6 regulate cullin-dependent small ankyrin-1 (sAnk1.5) protein turnover 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(13):2490-2504.
Small ankyrin-1 isoform 5 (sAnk1.5) turnover is regulated by posttranslational modification (ubiquitylation, neddylation, and acetylation), the presence of obscurin, and KCTD6 (a novel tissue-specific interaction partner). KCTD6 links sAnk1.5 to cullin-3. The absence of obscurin results in translocation of sAnk1.5/KCTD6 to the Z-disk and loss of sAnk1.5 on the protein level.
Protein turnover through cullin-3 is tightly regulated by posttranslational modifications, the COP9 signalosome, and BTB/POZ-domain proteins that link cullin-3 to specific substrates for ubiquitylation. In this paper, we report how potassium channel tetramerization domain containing 6 (KCTD6) represents a novel substrate adaptor for cullin-3, effectively regulating protein levels of the muscle small ankyrin-1 isoform 5 (sAnk1.5).
Binding of sAnk1.5 to KCTD6, and its subsequent turnover is regulated through posttranslational modification by nedd8, ubiquitin, and acetylation of C-terminal lysine residues. The presence of the sAnk1.5 binding partner obscurin, and mutation of lysine residues increased sAnk1.5 protein levels, as did knockdown of KCTD6 in cardiomyocytes. Obscurin knockout muscle displayed reduced sAnk1.5 levels and mislocalization of the sAnk1.5/KCTD6 complex. Scaffolding functions of obscurin may therefore prevent activation of the cullin-mediated protein degradation machinery and ubiquitylation of sAnk1.5 through sequestration of sAnk1.5/KCTD6 at the sarcomeric M-band, away from the Z-disk–associated cullin-3. The interaction of KCTD6 with ankyrin-1 may have implications beyond muscle for hereditary spherocytosis, as KCTD6 is also present in erythrocytes, and erythrocyte ankyrin isoforms contain its mapped minimal binding site.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E12-01-0052
PMCID: PMC3386213  PMID: 22573887
16.  TC10 controls human myofibril organization and is activated by the sarcomeric RhoGEF obscurin 
Journal of Cell Science  2009;122(Pt 7):947-956.
Summary
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.
doi:10.1242/jcs.040121
PMCID: PMC2904472  PMID: 19258391
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
17.  Characterization and Comparison of Two Binding Sites on Obscurin for Small Ankyrin 1† 
Biochemistry  2010;49(46):9948-9956.
Obscurin A, a ~720kDa modular protein of striated muscles, binds to small ankyrin 1 (sAnk1, Ank 1.5), an integral protein of the sarcoplasmic reticulum, through two distinct carboxy-terminal sequences, Obsc6316–6436 and Obsc6236–6260. We hypothesized that these sequences differ in affinity, but that they compete for the same binding site on sAnk1. We show that the sequence within Obsc6316–6436 that binds to sAnk1 is limited to residues 6316–6345. Comparison of Obsc6231–6260 to Obsc6316–6345 reveals that Obsc6316–6345 binds sAnk1 with an affinity, (133 ± 43 nM), comparable to that of the Obsc6316–6436 fusion protein, whereas Obsc6231–6260 binds with lower affinity (384±53 nM). Oligopeptides of each sequence compete for binding with both sites at half-maximal inhibitory concentrations consistent with the affinities measured directly. Five of six site-directed mutants of sAnk1 showed similar reductions in binding to each binding site on obscurin, suggesting that they dock to many of the same residues of sAnk1. Circular dichroism (CD) analysis of the synthetic oligopeptides revealed a two-fold greater α-helical content in Obsc6316–6346, ~35%, than Obsc6231–6260, ~17%. Using these data, structural prediction algorithms and homology modeling, we predict that Obsc6316–6345 contains a bent α-helix of 12 amino acids, flanked by short disordered regions, and that Obsc6231–6260 has a short, N-terminal α-helix of 4–5 residues followed by a long disordered region. Our results are consistent with a model in which both sequences of obscurin differ significantly in structure, but bind to the ankyrin-like repeat motifs of sAnk1 in a similar though not identical manner.
doi:10.1021/bi101165p
PMCID: PMC3000613  PMID: 20949908
Obscurin; Ankyrin; Protein Docking; Homology Modeling; Electrostatic Interaction; Surface Plasmon Resonance
18.  Obscurins: Unassuming Giants Enter the Spotlight 
IUBMB life  2013;65(6):479-486.
Discovered about a decade ago, obscurin (~720 kDa) is a member of a family of giant proteins expressed in striated muscle that are essential for normal muscle function. Much of what we understand about obscurin stems from its functions in cardiac and skeletal muscle. However, recent evidence has indicated that variants of obscurin (“obscurins”) are expressed in diverse cell types, where they contribute to distinct cellular processes. Dysfunction or abrogation of obscurins has also been implicated in the development of several pathological conditions, including cardiac hypertrophy and cancer. Herein, we present an overview of obscurins with an emphasis on novel findings that demonstrate their heretofore-unsuspected importance in cell signaling and disease progression.
doi:10.1002/iub.1157
PMCID: PMC3957234  PMID: 23512348
striated muscle; cardiac hypertrophy; breast cancer; OBSCN; obscurin; UNC-89.
19.  Obscurin is required for ankyrinB-dependent dystrophin localization and sarcolemma integrity 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;200(4):523-536.
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.
doi:10.1083/jcb.201205118
PMCID: PMC3575540  PMID: 23420875
20.  Isoform Diversity of Giant Proteins in Relation to Passive and Active Contractile Properties of Rabbit Skeletal Muscles 
The Journal of General Physiology  2005;126(5):461-480.
The active and passive contractile performance of skeletal muscle fibers largely depends on the myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform and the stiffness of the titin spring, respectively. Open questions concern the relationship between titin-based stiffness and active contractile parameters, and titin's importance for total passive muscle stiffness. Here, a large set of adult rabbit muscles (n = 37) was studied for titin size diversity, passive mechanical properties, and possible correlations with the fiber/MHC composition. Titin isoform analyses showed sizes between ∼3300 and 3700 kD; 31 muscles contained a single isoform, six muscles coexpressed two isoforms, including the psoas, where individual fibers expressed similar isoform ratios of 30:70 (3.4:3.3 MD). Gel electrophoresis and Western blotting of two other giant muscle proteins, nebulin and obscurin, demonstrated muscle type–dependent size differences of ≤70 kD. Single fiber and single myofibril mechanics performed on a subset of muscles showed inverse relationships between titin size and titin-borne tension. Force measurements on muscle strips suggested that titin-based stiffness is not correlated with total passive stiffness, which is largely determined also by extramyofibrillar structures, particularly collagen. Some muscles have low titin-based stiffness but high total passive stiffness, whereas the opposite is true for other muscles. Plots of titin size versus percentage of fiber type or MHC isoform (I-IIB-IIA-IID) determined by myofibrillar ATPase staining and gel electrophoresis revealed modest correlations with the type I fiber and MHC-I proportions. No relationships were found with the proportions of the different type II fiber/MHC-II subtypes. Titin-based stiffness decreased with the slow fiber/MHC percentage, whereas neither extramyofibrillar nor total passive stiffness depended on the fiber/MHC composition. In conclusion, a low correlation exists between the active and passive mechanical properties of skeletal muscle fibers. Slow muscles usually express long titin(s), predominantly fast muscles can express either short or long titin(s), giving rise to low titin-based stiffness in slow muscles and highly variable stiffness in fast muscles. Titin contributes substantially to total passive stiffness, but this contribution varies greatly among muscles.
doi:10.1085/jgp.200509364
PMCID: PMC2266601  PMID: 16230467
21.  The NH2 Terminus of Titin Spans the Z-Disc: Its Interaction with a Novel 19-kD Ligand (T-cap) Is Required for Sarcomeric Integrity  
The Journal of Cell Biology  1998;143(4):1013-1027.
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.
PMCID: PMC2132961  PMID: 9817758
titin; α-actinin; Z-disc; titin-cap (T-cap); sarcomere
22.  On Mice, Rabbits, and Human Heart Failure 
Circulation  2005;111(18):2276-2279.
Sarcomeres, bundled into thick and thin filaments, are the units of contraction in the striated muscle. The thick filaments comprise several hundred hexameric myosin molecules, composed of 2 myosin heavy chain (MyHC) proteins, the molecular motor of contraction, and 2 regulatory and 2 essential light chains. The globular head of MyHC contains the binding domains for cardiac α-actin and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and is attached to a hinge region, which when flexed, moves the globular head over the thin filaments. The thin filaments comprise the cardiac troponin C (cTnC), T (cTnT), and I (cTnI) complex, α-tropomyosin dimers, and cardiac α-actin, maintained in a tight 1:1:7 stoichiometry. Several additional sarcomeric proteins, such as myosin-binding protein C, titin, obscurin, and telethonin contribute to the stabilization and function of the sarcomeres.
doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000167559.13502.9A
PMCID: PMC2891775  PMID: 15883223
Editorials; heart failure; myosin isoforms; troponins; genetics
23.  Contribution of the OBSCN Nonsynonymous Variants to Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease Susceptibility in Korean Population 
DNA and Cell Biology  2012;31(6):1001-1009.
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.
doi:10.1089/dna.2011.1436
PMCID: PMC3378958  PMID: 22251166
24.  UNC-89 (obscurin) binds to MEL-26, a BTB-domain protein, and affects the function of MEI-1 (katanin) in striated muscle of Caenorhabditis elegans 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(14):2623-2634.
UNC-89 (obscurin) interacts with MEL-26, a BTB-domain protein/adaptor for cullin-3. MEL-26 colocalizes with UNC-89 at M-lines. Mutations in MEL-26, CUL-3 (cullin-3), and MEI-1 (katanin) result in a muscle phenotype similar to that of unc-89 mutants. The level of MEI-1 is reduced in unc-89 mutants, suggesting that normally UNC-89 inhibits CUL-3/MEL-26 in muscle.
The ubiquitin proteasome system is involved in degradation of old or damaged sarcomeric proteins. Most E3 ubiquitin ligases are associated with cullins, which function as scaffolds for assembly of the protein degradation machinery. Cullin 3 uses an adaptor to link to substrates; in Caenorhabditis elegans, one of these adaptors is the BTB-domain protein MEL-26 (maternal effect lethal). Here we show that MEL-26 interacts with the giant sarcomeric protein UNC-89 (obscurin). MEL-26 and UNC-89 partially colocalize at sarcomeric M-lines. Loss of function or gain of function of mel-26 results in disorganization of myosin thick filaments similar to that found in unc-89 mutants. It had been reported that in early C. elegans embryos, a target of the CUL-3/MEL-26 ubiquitylation complex is the microtubule-severing enzyme katanin (MEI-1). Loss of function or gain of function of mei-1 also results in disorganization of thick filaments similar to unc-89 mutants. Genetic data indicate that at least some of the mel-26 loss-of-function phenotype in muscle can be attributed to increased microtubule-severing activity of MEI-1. The level of MEI-1 protein is reduced in an unc-89 mutant, suggesting that the normal role of UNC-89 is to inhibit the CUL-3/MEL-26 complex toward MEI-1.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E12-01-0055
PMCID: PMC3395652  PMID: 22621901
25.  1H, 15N and 13C backbone chemical shift assignment of titin domains A59–A60 and A60 alone 
Biomolecular Nmr Assignments  2014;8(2):429-433.
The giant protein titin is the third most abundant protein of vertebrate striated muscle. The titin molecule is >1 μm long and spans half the sarcomere, from the Z-disk to the M-line, and has important roles in sarcomere assembly, elasticity and intracellular signaling. In the A-band of the sarcomere titin is attached to the thick filaments and mainly consists immunoglobulin-like and fibronectin type III-like domains. These are mostly arranged in long-range patterns or ‘super-repeats’. The large super-repeats each contain 11 domains and are repeated 11 times, thus forming nearly half the titin molecule. Through interactions with myosin and C-protein, they are involved in thick filament assembly. The importance of titin in muscle assembly is highlighted by the effect of mutations in the A-band portion, which are the commonest cause of dilated cardiomyopathy, affecting ~1 in 250 (Herman et al. in N Engl J Med 366:619–628, 2012). Here we report backbone 15N, 13C and 1H chemical shift and 13Cβ assignments for the A59–A60 domain tandem from the titin A59–A69 large super-repeat, completed using triple resonance NMR. Since, some regions of the backbone remained unassigned in A60 domain of the complete A59–A60 tandem, a construct containing a single A60 domain, A60sd, was also studied using the same methods. Considerably improved assignment coverage was achieved using A60sd due to its lower mass and improved molecular tumbling rate; these assignments also allowed the analysis of inter-domain interactions using chemical shift mapping against A59–A60.
doi:10.1007/s12104-013-9532-0
PMCID: PMC4145206  PMID: 24469996
Muscle protein; Titin A-band; Large super-repeat unit; Fibronectin type III domain tandem

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