Tropomodulins, cytoplasmic γ-actin, and small ankyrin 1.5 mechanically stabilize the sarcoplasmic reticulum and maintain myofibril alignment in skeletal muscle fibers.
The sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) serves as the Ca2+ reservoir for muscle contraction. Tropomodulins (Tmods) cap filamentous actin (F-actin) pointed ends, bind tropomyosins (Tms), and regulate F-actin organization. In this paper, we use a genetic targeting approach to examine the effect of Tmod1 deletion on the organization of cytoplasmic γ-actin (γcyto-actin) in the SR of skeletal muscle. In wild-type muscle fibers, γcyto-actin and Tmod3 defined an SR microdomain that was distinct from another Z line–flanking SR microdomain containing Tmod1 and Tmod4. The γcyto-actin/Tmod3 microdomain contained an M line complex composed of small ankyrin 1.5 (sAnk1.5), γcyto-actin, Tmod3, Tm4, and Tm5NM1. Tmod1 deletion caused Tmod3 to leave its SR compartment, leading to mislocalization and destabilization of the Tmod3–γcyto-actin–sAnk1.5 complex. This was accompanied by SR morphological defects, impaired Ca2+ release, and an age-dependent increase in sarcomere misalignment. Thus, Tmod3 regulates SR-associated γcyto-actin architecture, mechanically stabilizes the SR via a novel cytoskeletal linkage to sAnk1.5, and maintains the alignment of adjacent myofibrils.
Efficient striated muscle contraction requires precise assembly and regulation of diverse actin filament systems, most notably the sarcomeric thin filaments of the contractile apparatus. By capping the pointed ends of actin filaments, tropomodulins (Tmods) regulate actin filament assembly, lengths, and stability. Here, we explore the current understanding of the expression patterns, localizations, and functions of Tmods in both cardiac and skeletal muscle. We first describe the mechanisms by which Tmods regulate myofibril assembly and thin filament lengths, as well as the roles of closely related Tmod family variants, the leiomodins (Lmods), in these processes. We also discuss emerging functions for Tmods in the sarcoplasmic reticulum. This paper provides abundant evidence that Tmods are key structural regulators of striated muscle cytoarchitecture and physiology.
In skeletal muscle fibers, tropomodulin 1 (Tmod1) can be compensated for, structurally but not functionally, by Tmod3 and -4.
During myofibril assembly, thin filament lengths are precisely specified to optimize skeletal muscle function. Tropomodulins (Tmods) are capping proteins that specify thin filament lengths by controlling actin dynamics at pointed ends. In this study, we use a genetic targeting approach to explore the effects of deleting Tmod1 from skeletal muscle. Myofibril assembly, skeletal muscle structure, and thin filament lengths are normal in the absence of Tmod1. Tmod4 localizes to thin filament pointed ends in Tmod1-null embryonic muscle, whereas both Tmod3 and -4 localize to pointed ends in Tmod1-null adult muscle. Substitution by Tmod3 and -4 occurs despite their weaker interactions with striated muscle tropomyosins. However, the absence of Tmod1 results in depressed isometric stress production during muscle contraction, systemic locomotor deficits, and a shift to a faster fiber type distribution. Thus, Tmod3 and -4 compensate for the absence of Tmod1 structurally but not functionally. We conclude that Tmod1 is a novel regulator of skeletal muscle physiology.
Tropomodulin1 (Tmod1) caps the pointed ends of actin filaments in sarcomeres of striated muscle myofibrils and in the erythrocyte membrane skeleton. Targeted deletion of mouse Tmod1 leads to defects in cardiac development, fragility of primitive erythroid cells, and an absence of yolk sac vasculogenesis, followed by embryonic lethality at E9.5. The Tmod1 null embryonic hearts do not undergo looping morphogenesis and the cardiomyocytes fail to assemble striated myofibrils with regulated F-actin lengths. To test whether embryonic lethality of Tmod1 nulls results from defects in cardiac myofibrillogenesis and development, or from erythroid cell fragility and subsequent defects in yolk sac vasculogenesis, we expressed Tmod1 specifically in the myocardium of the Tmod1 null mice under the control of the α-myosin heavy chain promoter, Tg(αMHC-Tmod1). In contrast to Tmod1 null embryos, which fail to undergo cardiac looping and have defective yolk sac vasculogenesis, both cardiac and yolk sac morphology of Tmod1-/-Tg(αMHC-Tmod1) embryos are normal at E9.5. Tmod1-/-Tg(αMHC-Tmod1) embryos develop into viable and fertile mice, indicating that expression of Tmod1 in the heart is sufficient to rescue the Tmod1 null embryonic defects. Thus, while loss of Tmod1 results in myriad defects and embryonic lethality, the Tmod1-/- primary defect is in the myocardium. Moreover, Tmod1 is not required in erythrocytes for viability, nor do the Tmod1-/- fragile primitive erythroid cells affect cardiac development, yolk sac vasculogenesis, or viability in the mouse.
Cardiac Development; Myofibrillogenesis; Looping Morphogenesis; Yolk Sac Vasculogenesis; Erythroid Stability
Tropomodulins are a family of four proteins (Tmods 1–4) that cap the pointed ends of actin filaments in actin cytoskeletal structures in a developmentally regulated and tissue-specific manner. Unique among capping proteins, Tmods also bind tropomyosins (TMs), which greatly enhance the actin filament pointed-end capping activity of Tmods. Tmods are defined by a tropomyosin (TM)-regulated/Pointed-End Actin Capping (TM-Cap) domain in their unstructured N-terminal portion, followed by a compact, folded Leucine-Rich Repeat/Pointed-End Actin Capping (LRR-Cap) domain. By inhibiting actin monomer association and dissociation from pointed ends, Tmods regulate regulate actin dynamics and turnover, stabilizing actin filament lengths and cytoskeletal architecture. In this review, we summarize the genes, structural features, molecular and biochemical properties, actin regulatory mechanisms, expression patterns, and cell and tissue functions of Tmods. By understanding Tmods’ functions in the context of their molecular structure, actin regulation, binding partners, and related variants (leiomodins 1–3), we can draw broad conclusions that can explain the diverse morphological and functional phenotypes that arise from Tmod perturbation experiments in vitro and in vivo. Tmod-based stabilization and organization of intracellular actin filament networks provide key insights into how the emergent properties of the actin cytoskeleton drive tissue morphogenesis and physiology.
Calpain-mediated proteolysis of the thin filament pointed-end–capping protein tropomodulin results in actin subunit association onto pointed ends and increased thin filament lengths in two different murine models of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This mechanism affects different skeletal muscles in a use- and disease severity–dependent manner.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) induces sarcolemmal mechanical instability and rupture, hyperactivity of intracellular calpains, and proteolytic breakdown of muscle structural proteins. Here we identify the two sarcomeric tropomodulin (Tmod) isoforms, Tmod1 and Tmod4, as novel proteolytic targets of m-calpain, with Tmod1 exhibiting ∼10-fold greater sensitivity to calpain-mediated cleavage than Tmod4 in situ. In mdx mice, increased m-calpain levels in dystrophic soleus muscle are associated with loss of Tmod1 from the thin filament pointed ends, resulting in ∼11% increase in thin filament lengths. In mdx/mTR mice, a more severe model of DMD, Tmod1 disappears from the thin filament pointed ends in both tibialis anterior (TA) and soleus muscles, whereas Tmod4 additionally disappears from soleus muscle, resulting in thin filament length increases of ∼10 and ∼12% in TA and soleus muscles, respectively. In both mdx and mdx/mTR mice, both TA and soleus muscles exhibit normal localization of α-actinin, the nebulin M1M2M3 domain, Tmod3, and cytoplasmic γ-actin, indicating that m-calpain does not cause wholesale proteolysis of other sarcomeric and actin cytoskeletal proteins in dystrophic skeletal muscle. These results implicate Tmod proteolysis and resultant thin filament length misspecification as novel mechanisms that may contribute to DMD pathology, affecting muscles in a use- and disease severity–dependent manner.
Lmod is a muscle-specific actin nucleator that displays structural similarity to the filament pointed-end–capping protein, Tmod. The mechanisms of localizations of Lmod and Tmod in muscle sarcomeres are strikingly different. Lmod contributes to the organization of mature myofibrils through a mechanism that requires interaction with tropomyosin.
Leiomodin (Lmod) is a muscle-specific F-actin–nucleating protein that is related to the F-actin pointed-end–capping protein tropomodulin (Tmod). However, Lmod contains a unique ∼150-residue C-terminal extension that is required for its strong nucleating activity. Overexpression or depletion of Lmod compromises sarcomere organization, but the mechanism by which Lmod contributes to myofibril assembly is not well understood. We show that Tmod and Lmod localize through fundamentally different mechanisms to the pointed ends of two distinct subsets of actin filaments in myofibrils. Tmod localizes to two narrow bands immediately adjacent to M-lines, whereas Lmod displays dynamic localization to two broader bands, which are generally more separated from M-lines. Lmod's localization and F-actin nucleation activity are enhanced by interaction with tropomyosin. Unlike Tmod, the myofibril localization of Lmod depends on sustained muscle contraction and actin polymerization. We further show that Lmod expression correlates with the maturation of myofibrils in cultured cardiomyocytes and that it associates with sarcomeres only in differentiated myofibrils. Collectively, the data suggest that Lmod contributes to the final organization and maintenance of sarcomere architecture by promoting tropomyosin-dependent actin filament nucleation.
Nemaline myopathy is an inherited muscle disease that is mainly diagnosed by the presence of nemaline rods in muscle biopsies. Of the nine genes associated with the disease, five encode components of striated muscle sarcomeres. In a genetic zebrafish screen, the mutant träge (trg) was isolated based on its reduction in muscle birefringence, indicating muscle damage. Myofibres in trg appeared disorganised and showed inhomogeneous cytoplasmic eosin staining alongside malformed nuclei. Linkage analysis of trg combined with sequencing identified a nonsense mutation in tropomodulin4 (tmod4), a regulator of thin filament length and stability. Accordingly, although actin monomers polymerize to form thin filaments in the skeletal muscle of tmod4trg mutants, thin filaments often appeared to be dispersed throughout myofibres. Organised myofibrils with the typical striation rarely assemble, leading to severe muscle weakness, impaired locomotion and early death. Myofibrils of tmod4trg mutants often featured thin filaments of various lengths, widened Z-disks, undefined H-zones and electron-dense aggregations of various shapes and sizes. Importantly, Gomori trichrome staining and the lattice pattern of the detected cytoplasmic rods, together with the reactivity of rods with phalloidin and an antibody against actinin, is reminiscent of nemaline rods found in nemaline myopathy, suggesting that misregulation of thin filament length causes cytoplasmic rod formation in tmod4trg mutants. Although Tropomodulin4 has not been associated with myopathy, the results presented here implicateTMOD4 as a novel candidate for unresolved nemaline myopathies and suggest that the tmod4trg mutant will be a valuable tool to study human muscle disorders.
Myofibrillogenesis; Nemaline myopathy; Neuromuscular disorder; Sarcomere assembly; tmod; Tropomodulin
Tropomodulin1 (Tmod1) caps thin filament pointed ends in striated muscle, where it controls filament lengths by regulating actin dynamics. Here, we investigated myofibril assembly and heart development in a Tmod1 knockout mouse. In the absence of Tmod1, embryonic development appeared normal up to embryonic day (E) 8.5. By E9.5, heart defects were evident, including aborted development of the myocardium and inability to pump, leading to embryonic lethality by E10.5. Confocal microscopy of hearts of E8–8.5 Tmod1 null embryos revealed structures resembling nascent myofibrils with continuous F-actin staining and periodic dots of α-actinin, indicating that I-Z-I complexes assembled in the absence of Tmod1. Myomesin, a thick filament component, was also assembled normally along these structures, indicating that thick filament assembly is independent of Tmod1. However, myofibrils did not become striated, and gaps in F-actin staining (H zones) were never observed. We conclude that Tmod1 is required for regulation of actin filament lengths and myofibril maturation; this is critical for heart morphogenesis during embryonic development.
actin; tropomodulin; tropomyosin; sarcomere; cardiac muscle
The basis for mammalian lens fiber cell organization, transparency, and biomechanical properties has contributions from two specialized cytoskeletal systems: the spectrin-actin membrane skeleton and beaded filament cytoskeleton. The spectrin-actin membrane skeleton predominantly consists of α2β2-spectrin strands interconnecting short, tropomyosin-coated actin filaments, which are stabilized by pointed-end capping by tropomodulin 1 (Tmod1) and structurally disrupted in the absence of Tmod1. The beaded filament cytoskeleton consists of the intermediate filament proteins CP49 and filensin, which require CP49 for assembly and contribute to lens transparency and biomechanics. To assess the simultaneous physiological contributions of these cytoskeletal networks and uncover potential functional synergy between them, we subjected lenses from mice lacking Tmod1, CP49, or both to a battery of structural and physiological assays to analyze fiber cell disorder, light scattering, and compressive biomechanical properties. Findings show that deletion of Tmod1 and/or CP49 increases lens fiber cell disorder and light scattering while impairing compressive load-bearing, with the double mutant exhibiting a distinct phenotype compared to either single mutant. Moreover, Tmod1 is in a protein complex with CP49 and filensin, indicating that the spectrin-actin network and beaded filament cytoskeleton are biochemically linked. These experiments reveal that the spectrin-actin membrane skeleton and beaded filament cytoskeleton establish a novel functional synergy critical for regulating lens fiber cell geometry, transparency, and mechanical stiffness.
The tropomodulins (TMODs) are a family of proteins that cap the pointed ends of actin filaments. Four TMODs have been identified in humans, with orthologs in mice. Mutations in actin or actin-binding proteins have been found to cause several human diseases, ranging from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy to immunodefiencies such as Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. We had previously mapped Tropomodulin 2 (TMOD2) to the genomic region containing the gene for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 5 (ALS5). We determined the genomic structure of Tmod2 in order to better analyze patient DNA for mutations; we also determined the genomic structure of Tropomodulin 4 (TMOD4).
In this study, we determined the genomic structure of TMOD2 and TMOD4 and found the organization of both genes to be similar. Sequence analysis of TMOD2 revealed no mutations or polymorphisms in ALS5 patients or controls. Interestingly, we discovered that another gene, YL-1, intergenically splices into TMOD4. YL-1 encodes six exons, the last of which is 291 bp from a 5' untranslated exon of TMOD4. We used 5' RACE and RT-PCR from TMOD4 to identify several intergenic RACE products. YL-1 was also found to undergo unconventional splicing using non-canonical splice sites within exons (intraexonic splicing) to produce several alternative transcripts.
The genomic structure of TMOD2 and TMOD4 have been delineated. This should facilitate future mutational analysis of these genes. In addition, intergenic splicing at TMOD4/YL-1 was discovered, demonstrating yet another level of complexity of gene organization and regulation.
Tropomodulin (Tmod) is an actin pointed-end capping protein that regulates actin dynamics at thin filament pointed ends in striated muscle. Although pointed-end capping by Tmod controls thin filament lengths in assembled myofibrils, its role in length specification during de novo myofibril assembly is not established. We used the Drosophila Tmod homologue, sanpodo (spdo), to investigate Tmod's function during muscle development in the indirect flight muscle. SPDO was associated with the pointed ends of elongating thin filaments throughout myofibril assembly. Transient overexpression of SPDO during myofibril assembly irreversibly arrested elongation of preexisting thin filaments. However, the lengths of thin filaments assembled after SPDO levels had declined were normal. Flies with a preponderance of abnormally short thin filaments were unable to fly. We conclude that: (a) thin filaments elongate from their pointed ends during myofibril assembly; (b) pointed ends are dynamically capped at endogenous levels of SPDO so as to allow elongation; (c) a transient increase in SPDO levels during myofibril assembly converts SPDO from a dynamic to a permanent cap; and (d) developmental regulation of pointed-end capping during myofibril assembly is crucial for specification of final thin filament lengths, myofibril structure, and muscle function.
actin-capping protein; thin filaments; myofibril; sanpodo; tropomodulin
Actin (thin) filament length regulation and stability are essential for striated muscle function. To determine the role of the actin filament pointed end capping protein, tropomodulin1 (Tmod1), with tropomyosin, we generated monoclonal antibodies (mAb17 and mAb8) against Tmod1 that specifically disrupted its interaction with tropomyosin in vitro. Microinjection of mAb17 or mAb8 into chick cardiac myocytes caused a dramatic loss of the thin filaments, as revealed by immunofluorescence deconvolution microscopy. Real-time imaging of live myocytes expressing green fluorescent protein–α-tropomyosin and microinjected with mAb17 revealed that the thin filaments depolymerized from their pointed ends. In a thin filament reconstitution assay, stabilization of the filaments before the addition of mAb17 prevented the loss of thin filaments. These studies indicate that the interaction of Tmod1 with tropomyosin is critical for thin filament stability. These data, together with previous studies, indicate that Tmod1 is a multifunctional protein: its actin filament capping activity prevents thin filament elongation, whereas its interaction with tropomyosin prevents thin filament depolymerization.
sarcomere; myofibrillogenesis; cardiac muscle; actin; thin filament
Regulation of the actin cytoskeleton is critical for neurite formation. Tropomodulins (Tmods) regulate polymerization at actin filament pointed ends. Previous experiments using a mouse model deficient for the neuron specific isoform Tmod2 suggested a role for Tmods in neuronal function by impacting processes underlying learning and memory. However, the role of Tmods in neuronal function on the cellular level remains unknown. Immunofluorescence localization of the neuronal isoforms Tmod1 and Tmod2 in cultured rat primary hippocampal neurons revealed that Tmod1 is enriched along the proximal part of F-actin bundles in lamellipodia of spreading cells and in growth cones of extending neurites, while Tmod2 appears largely cytoplasmic. Functional analysis of these Tmod isoforms in a mouse neuroblastoma N2a cell line showed that knockdown of Tmod2 resulted in a significant increase in number of neurite-forming cells and in neurite length. While N2a cells compensated for Tmod2 knockdown by increasing Tmod1 levels, over-expression of exogenous Tmod1 had no effect on neurite outgrowth. Moreover, knockdown of Tmod1 increased the number of neurites formed per cell, without effect on number of neurite-forming cells or neurite length. Taken together, these results indicate that Tmod1 and Tmod2 have mechanistically distinct inhibitory roles in neurite formation, likely mediated via different effects on F-actin dynamics and via differential localizations during early neuritogenesis.
Tropomodulin; F-actin; neurite outgrowth; N2a mouse neuroblastoma cells; cultured hippocampal neurons
The tropomodulins are a family of proteins that cap the pointed, slow-growing end of actin filaments and require tropomyosin for optimal function. Earlier studies identified two regions in Tmod1 that bind the N terminus of tropomyosin, though the ability of different isoforms to bind the two sites is controversial. We used model peptides to determine the affinity and define the specificity of the highly-conserved N termini of three short, non-muscle tropomyosins (α, γ, δ-TM) for the two Tmod1 binding sites using circular dichroism spectroscopy, native gel electrophoresis, and chemical crosslinking. All tropomyosin peptides have high affinity to the second Tmod1 binding site (within residues 109–144; α-TM, 2.5 nM; γ-TM, δ-TM, 40–90 nM), but differ >100- fold for the first site (residues 1–38; α-TM, 90 nM; undetectable at 10 µM, γ-TM, δ-TM). Residue 14 (R in α; Q in γ, δ), and to a lesser extent, residue 4 (S in α; T in γ, δ) are primarily responsible for the differences. The functional consequence of the sequence differences is reflected in the more effective inhibition of actin filament elongation by full-length α-TMs than γ-TM in the presence of Tmod1. The binding sites of the two Tmod1 peptides on a model tropomyosin peptide differ, as defined by comparing 15N¹H HSQC spectra of a 15N-labeled model tropomyosin peptide in the absence and presence of Tmod1 peptide. The NMR and circular dichroism studies show that there is an increase in α-helix upon Tmod1-tropomyosin complex formation, indicating that intrinsically disordered regions of the two proteins become ordered when they bind. A proposed model for the binding of Tmod to actin and tropomyosin at the pointed end of the filament shows how the tropomodulin-tropomyosin accentuates the asymmetry of the pointed end and suggests how subtle differences among tropomyosin isoforms may modulate actin filament dynamics.
tropomyosin; tropomodulin; actin filament; circular dichroism; nuclear magnetic resonance
Actin filament pointed-end dynamics are thought to play a critical role in cell motility, yet regulation of this process remains poorly understood. We describe here a previously uncharacterized tropomodulin (Tmod) isoform, Tmod3, which is widely expressed in human tissues and is present in human microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC-1). Tmod3 is present in sufficient quantity to cap pointed ends of actin filaments, localizes to actin filament structures in HMEC-1 cells, and appears enriched in leading edge ruffles and lamellipodia. Transient overexpression of GFP–Tmod3 leads to a depolarized cell morphology and decreased cell motility. A fivefold increase in Tmod3 results in an equivalent decrease in free pointed ends in the cells. Unexpectedly, a decrease in the relative amounts of F-actin, free barbed ends, and actin-related protein 2/3 (Arp2/3) complex in lamellipodia are also observed. Conversely, decreased expression of Tmod3 by RNA interference leads to faster average cell migration, along with increases in free pointed and barbed ends in lamellipodial actin filaments. These data collectively demonstrate that capping of actin filament pointed ends by Tmod3 inhibits cell migration and reveal a novel control mechanism for regulation of actin filaments in lamellipodia.
cytoskeleton; angiogenesis; actin; tropomyosin; lamellipodia
The spectrin–actin network is disrupted in Tmod1 mutants, disturbing fiber cell morphology, and disordering lens cell organization.
Hexagonal packing geometry is a hallmark of close-packed epithelial cells in metazoans. Here, we used fiber cells of the vertebrate eye lens as a model system to determine how the membrane skeleton controls hexagonal packing of post-mitotic cells. The membrane skeleton consists of spectrin tetramers linked to actin filaments (F-actin), which are capped by tropomodulin1 (Tmod1) and stabilized by tropomyosin (TM). In mouse lenses lacking Tmod1, initial fiber cell morphogenesis is normal, but fiber cell hexagonal shapes and packing geometry are not maintained as fiber cells mature. Absence of Tmod1 leads to decreased γTM levels, loss of F-actin from membranes, and disrupted distribution of β2-spectrin along fiber cell membranes. Regular interlocking membrane protrusions on fiber cells are replaced by irregularly spaced and misshapen protrusions. We conclude that Tmod1 and γTM regulation of F-actin stability on fiber cell membranes is critical for the long-range connectivity of the spectrin–actin network, which functions to maintain regular fiber cell hexagonal morphology and packing geometry.
α-catenin is central to recruitment of actin networks to the cadherin-catenin complex (CCC) [1, 2], but how such networks are subsequently stabilized against applied stress during morphogenesis is poorly understood. To identify proteins that functionally interact with α-catenin in this process, we performed enhancer screening using a weak allele of the C. elegans α-catenin, hmp-1, and identified UNC-94/tropomodulin. Tropomodulins (Tmods) cap the minus ends of F-actin in sarcomeres . They also regulate lamellipodia , can promote actin nucleation , and are required for normal cardiovascular development [6, 7] and neuronal growth cone morphology . Tmods regulate the morphology of cultured epithelial cells , but their role in epithelia in vivo remains unexplored. We find that UNC-94 is enriched within a HMP-1-dependent junctional actin network at epidermal adherens junctions subject to stress during morphogenesis. Loss of UNC-94 leads to discontinuity of this network, and high-speed filming of hmp-1(fe4);unc-94(RNAi) embryos reveals large junctional displacements that depend on the Rho pathway. In vitro, UNC-94 acts in combination with HMP-1, leading to longer actin bundles than with HMP-1 alone. Our data suggest Tmods protect actin filaments recruited by α-catenin from minus-end subunit loss, enabling them to withstand the stresses of morphogenesis.
cadherin; α-catenin; C. elegans; morphogenesis; tropomodulin; actin
We recently showed that cytoplasmic γ-actin (γcyto-actin) is dramatically elevated in striated muscle of dystrophin-deficient mdx mice. Here we demonstrate that γcyto-actin is markedly increased in golden retriever muscular dystrophy (GRMD), which better recapitulates the dystrophinopathy phenotype in humans. γcyto-Actin was also elevated in muscle from α-sarcoglycan null mice, but not in several other dystrophic animal models, including mice deficient in β-sarcoglycan, α-dystrobrevin, laminin-2, or α7 integrin. Muscle from mice lacking dystrophin and utrophin also expressed elevated γcyto-actin, which was not restored to normal by transgenic overexpression of α7 integrin. However, γcyto-actin was further elevated in skeletal muscle from GRMD animals treated with the glucocorticoid prednisone at doses shown to improve the dystrophic phenotype and muscle function. These data suggest that elevated γcyto-actin is part of a compensatory cytoskeletal remodeling program that may partially stabilize dystrophic muscle in some cases where the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex is compromised.
Assembly of the actin cytoskeleton is an important part of formation of neurites in developing neurons. Tropomodulin, a tropomyosin-dependent capping protein for the pointed end of the actin filament, is one of the key players in this process. Tropomodulin binds tropomyosin in two binding sites. Tmod1 and Tmod2, tropomodulin isoforms found in neurons, were overexpressed in PC12 cells, a model system for neuronal differentiation. Tmod1 did not affect neuronal differentiation; while cells expressing Tmod2 showed a significant reduction in the number and the length of neurites. Both tropomodulins bind short α-, γ- and δ-tropomyosin isoforms. Mutations in one of the tropomyosin-binding sites of Tmod1, which increased its affinity to short γ- and δ-tropomyosin isoforms, caused a decrease in binding short α-tropomyosin isoforms along with a 2-fold decrease in the length of neurites. Our data demonstrate that Tmod1 is involved in neuronal differentiation for proper neurite formation and outgrowth, and that Tmod2 inhibits these processes. The mutations in the tropomyosin-binding site of Tmod1 impair neurite outgrowth, suggesting that the integrity of this binding site is critical for the proper function of Tmod1 during neuronal differentiation.
Tropomodulin; Tropomyosin; Actin; Neurite formation; Cytoskeleton
We previously documented a ten-fold increase in γcyto-actin expression in dystrophin-deficient skeletal muscle and hypothesized that increased γcyto-actin expression may participate in an adaptive cytoskeletal remodeling response. To explore whether increased γcyto-actin fortifies the cortical cytoskeleton in dystrophic skeletal muscle, we generated double knockout mice lacking both dystrophin and γcyto-actin specifically in skeletal muscle (ms-DKO). Surprisingly, dystrophin-deficient mdx and ms-DKO mice presented with comparable levels of myofiber necrosis, membrane instability, and deficits in muscle function. The lack of an exacerbated phenotype in ms-DKO mice suggests γcyto-actin and dystrophin function in a common pathway. Finally, because both mdx and ms-DKO skeletal muscle showed similar levels of utrophin expression and presented with identical dystrophies, we conclude utrophin can partially compensate for the loss of dystrophin independent of a γcyto-actin-utrophin interaction.
The length and spatial organization of thin filaments in skeletal muscle sarcomeres are precisely maintained and are essential for efficient muscle contraction. While the major structural components of skeletal muscle sarcomeres have been well characterized, the mechanisms that regulate thin filament length and spatial organization are not well understood. Tropomodulin is a new, 40.6-kD tropomyosin-binding protein from the human erythrocyte membrane skeleton that binds to one end of erythrocyte tropomyosin and blocks head-to-tail association of tropomyosin molecules along actin filaments. Here we show that rat psoas skeletal muscle contains tropomodulin based on immunoreactivity, identical apparent mobility on SDS gels, and ability to bind muscle tropomyosin. Results from immunofluorescence labeling of isolated myofibrils at resting and stretched lengths using anti-erythrocyte tropomodulin antibodies indicate that tropomodulin is localized at or near the free (pointed) ends of the thin filaments; this localization is not dependent on the presence of myosin thick filaments. Immunoblotting of supernatants and pellets obtained after extraction of myosin from myofibrils also indicates that tropomodulin remains associated with the thin filaments. 1.2-1.6 copies of muscle tropomodulin are present per thin filament in myofibrils, supporting the possibility that one or two tropomodulin molecules may be associated with the two terminal tropomyosin molecules at the pointed end of each thin filament. Although a number of proteins are associated with the barbed ends of the thin filaments at the Z disc, tropomodulin is the first protein to be specifically located at or near the pointed ends of the thin filaments. We propose that tropomodulin may cap the tropomyosin polymers at the pointed end of the thin filament and play a role in regulating thin filament length.
Tropomodulin is a pointed end capping protein for tropomyosin-coated actin filaments that is hypothesized to play a role in regulating the precise lengths of striated muscle thin filaments (Fowler, V. M., M. A. Sussman, P. G. Miller, B. E. Flucher, and M. P. Daniels. 1993. J. Cell Biol. 120:411-420; Weber, A., C. C. Pennise, G. G. Babcock, and V. M. Fowler. 1994, J. Cell Biol. 127:1627-1635). To gain insight into the mechanisms of thin filament assembly and the role of tropomodulin therein, we have characterized the temporal appearance, biosynthesis and mechanisms of assembly of tropomodulin onto the pointed ends of thin filaments during the formation of striated myofibrils in primary embryonic chick cardiomyocyte cultures. Our results demonstrate that tropomodulin is not assembled coordinately with other thin filament proteins. Double immunofluorescence staining and ultrastructural immunolocalization demonstrate that tropomodulin is incorporated in its characteristic sarcomeric location at the pointed ends of the thin filaments after the thin filaments have become organized into periodic I bands. In fact, tropomodulin assembles later than all other well characterized myofibrillar proteins studied including: actin, tropomyosin, alpha-actinin, titin, myosin and C-protein. Nevertheless, at steady state, a significant proportion (approximately 39%) of tropomodulin is present in a soluble pool throughout myofibril assembly. Thus, the absence of tropomodulin in some striated myofibrils is not due to limiting quantities of the protein. In addition, kinetic data obtained from [35S]methionine pulse-chase experiments indicate that tropomodulin assembles more slowly into myofibrils than does tropomyosin. This observation, together with results obtained using a novel permeabilized cell model for thin filament assembly, indicate that tropomodulin assembly is dependent on the prior association of tropomyosin with actin filaments. We conclude that tropomodulin is a late marker for the assembly of striated myofibrils in cardiomyocytes; its assembly appears to be linked to their maturity. We propose that tropomodulin is involved in maintaining and stabilizing the final lengths of thin filaments after they are assembled.
The mechanisms controlling thin filament length (TFL) in muscle remain controversial. It was recently reported that TFL was related to titin size, and that the latter might be involved in TFL determination. Titin plays several crucial roles in the sarcomere, but its function as it pertains to the thin filament has not been explored. We tested this relationship using several muscles from wild type rats and from a mutant rat model (Greaser et al., 2008) which results in increased titin size. Myofibrils were isolated from skeletal muscles [extensor digitorum longus (EDL), external oblique (EO), gastrocnemius (GAS), longissimus dorsi (LD), psoas major (PM), and tibialis anterior(TA)] using both adult wild type (WT) and homozygous mutant (HM) rats (n = 6 each). Phalloidin and antibodies against tropomodulin-4 (Tmod-4) and nebulin's N-terminus were used to determine TFL. The WT rats studied express skeletal muscle titin sizes ranging from 3.2 to 3.7 MDa, while the HM rats express a giant titin isoform sized at 3.8 MDa. No differences in phalloidin based TFL, nebulin distance, or Tmod distance were observed across genotypes. However, the HM rats demonstrated a significantly increased (p < 0.01) rest sarcomere length relative to the WT phenotype. It appears that the increased titin size, predominantly observed in HM rats' middle Ig domain, allows for increased extensibility. The data indicates that, although titin performs many sarcomeric functions, its correlation with TFL and structure could not be demonstrated in the rat.
titin; actin; phalloidin; tropomodulin; thin filament length
Many proteins have been shown to cap the fast growing (barbed) ends of actin filaments, but none have been shown to block elongation and depolymerization at the slow growing (pointed) filament ends. Tropomodulin is a tropomyosin-binding protein originally isolated from red blood cells that has been localized by immunofluorescence staining to a site at or near the pointed ends of skeletal muscle thin filaments (Fowler, V. M., M. A., Sussman, P. G. Miller, B. E. Flucher, and M. P. Daniels. 1993. J. Cell Biol. 120: 411-420). Our experiments demonstrate that tropomodulin in conjunction with tropomyosin is a pointed end capping protein: it completely blocks both elongation and depolymerization at the pointed ends of tropomyosin-containing actin filaments in concentrations stoichiometric to the concentration of filament ends (Kd < or = 1 nM). In the absence of tropomyosin, tropomodulin acts as a "leaky" cap, partially inhibiting elongation and depolymerization at the pointed filament ends (Kd for inhibition of elongation = 0.1-0.4 microM). Thus, tropomodulin can bind directly to actin at the pointed filament end. Tropomodulin also doubles the critical concentration at the pointed ends of pure actin filaments without affecting either the rate of extent of polymerization at the barbed filament ends, indicating that tropomodulin does not sequester actin monomers. Our experiments provide direct biochemical evidence that tropomodulin binds to both the terminal tropomyosin and actin molecules at the pointed filament end, and is the long sought-after pointed end capping protein. We propose that tropomodulin plays a role in maintaining the narrow length distributions of the stable, tropomyosin-containing actin filaments in striated muscle and in red blood cells.