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1.  Phosphoregulation of the Titin-cap Protein Telethonin in Cardiac Myocytes* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2013;289(3):1282-1293.
Background: Telethonin mutations are associated with cardiomyopathy through unknown mechanisms.
Results: Telethonin is a substrate for CaMK family kinases and exists in a bis-phosphorylated state in cardiomyocytes, in which non-phosphorylated telethonin disrupts transverse tubule organization and intracellular calcium transients.
Conclusion: Telethonin phosphorylation is critical for the maintenance of normal cardiomyocyte morphology and calcium handling.
Significance: Disruption of phospho-telethonin functions may contribute to pathogenesis in cardiomyopathy.
Telethonin (also known as titin-cap or t-cap) is a muscle-specific protein whose mutation is associated with cardiac and skeletal myopathies through unknown mechanisms. Our previous work identified cardiac telethonin as an interaction partner for the protein kinase D catalytic domain. In this study, kinase assays used in conjunction with MS and site-directed mutagenesis confirmed telethonin as a substrate for protein kinase D and Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II in vitro and identified Ser-157 and Ser-161 as the phosphorylation sites. Phosphate affinity electrophoresis and MS revealed endogenous telethonin to exist in a constitutively bis-phosphorylated form in isolated adult rat ventricular myocytes and in mouse and rat ventricular myocardium. Following heterologous expression in myocytes by adenoviral gene transfer, wild-type telethonin became bis-phosphorylated, whereas S157A/S161A telethonin remained non-phosphorylated. Nevertheless, both proteins localized predominantly to the sarcomeric Z-disc, where they partially replaced endogenous telethonin. Such partial replacement with S157A/S161A telethonin disrupted transverse tubule organization and prolonged the time to peak of the intracellular Ca2+ transient and increased its variance. These data reveal, for the first time, that cardiac telethonin is constitutively bis-phosphorylated and suggest that such phosphorylation is critical for normal telethonin function, which may include maintenance of transverse tubule organization and intracellular Ca2+ transients.
PMCID: PMC3894314  PMID: 24280220
CaMKII; Cardiac Muscle; Cardiomyopathy; Excitation-Contraction Coupling; Protein Kinase D (PKD); Protein Phosphorylation
2.  Developmental regulation of MURF E3 ubiquitin ligases in skeletal muscle 
The striated muscle-specific tripartite motif (TRIM) proteins TRIM63/MURF1, TRIM55/MURF2 and TRIM54/MURF3 can function as E3 ubiquitin ligases in ubiquitin-mediated muscle protein turnover. Despite the well-characterised role of MURF1 in skeletal muscle atrophy, the dynamics of MURF isogene expression in the development and early postnatal adaptation of skeletal muscle is unknown. Here, we show that MURF2 is the isogene most highly expressed in embryonic skeletal muscle at E15.5, with the 50 kDa A isoform predominantly expressed. MURF1 and MURF3 are upregulated only postnatally. Knockdown of MURF2 p50A by isoform-specific siRNA results in delayed myogenic differentiation and myotube formation in vitro, with perturbation of the stable, glutamylated microtubule population. This underscores that MURF2 plays an important role in the earliest stages of skeletal muscle differentiation and myofibrillogenesis. During further development, there is a shift towards the 60 kDa A isoform, which dominates postnatally. Analysis of the fibre-type expression shows that MURF2 A isoforms are predominantly slow-fibre associated, whilst MURF1 is largely excluded from these fibres, and MURF3 is ubiquitously distributed in both type I and II fibres.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10974-012-9288-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3353113  PMID: 22426552
MURF; p62; SQSTM1; NBR1; Myofibrils; Microtubules; Skeletal muscle development; Fibre-type differentiation; Slow fibres
3.  Cytoskeletal protein kinases: titin and its relations in mechanosensing 
Pflugers Archiv  2011;462(1):119-134.
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.
PMCID: PMC3114093  PMID: 21416260
Sarcomere; Mechanical strain sensor; Mechanobiology; Titin; Connectin; Twitchin; Myosin light-chain kinase; Autophagy; Obscurin; Myomesin; Nbr1; p62/SQSTM1; MURF; Telethonin/TCAP
4.  Developmental regulation of MURF ubiquitin ligases and autophagy proteins nbr1, p62/SQSTM1 and LC3 during cardiac myofibril assembly and turnover 
Developmental Biology  2011;351(1):46-61.
The striated muscle-specific tripartite motif (TRIM) proteins TRIM63/MURF1, TRIM55/MURF2 and TRIM54/MURF3 can function as ubiquitin E3 ligases in ubiquitin-mediated muscle protein turnover. Despite their well-characterised roles in muscle atrophy, the dynamics of MURF expression in the development and early postnatal adaptation of striated muscle is largely unknown. Here, we show that MURF2 is expressed at the very onset of mouse cardiac differentiation at embryonic day 8.5, and represents a sensitive marker for differentiating myocardium. During cardiac development, expression shifts from the 50 kDa to the 60 kDa A-isoform, which dominates postnatally. In contrast, MURF1 shows strong postnatal upregulation and MURF3 is not significantly expressed before birth. MURF2 expression parallels that of the autophagy-associated proteins LC3, p62/SQSTM1 and nbr1. SiRNA knockdown of MURF2 in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes disrupts posttranslational microtubule modification and myofibril assembly, and is only partly compensated by upregulation of MURF3 but not MURF1. Knockdown of both MURF2 and MURF3 severely disrupts the formation of ordered Z- and M-bands, likely by perturbed tubulin dynamics. These results suggest that ubiquitin-mediated protein turnover and MURF2 in particular play an unrecognised role in the earliest steps of heart muscle differentiation, and that partial complementation of MURF2 deficiency is afforded by MURF3.
Research Highlights
► MURF muscle ubiquitin ligases are developmentally regulated in mouse heart. ► MURF2 is the dominant cardiac MURF isogene expressed from mouse E8.5 onwards. ► MURF2 regulates microtubule dynamics in cardiac sarcomere assembly in vitro. ► MURF 2 and 3 show partial functional compensation in sarcomere assembly.
PMCID: PMC3047806  PMID: 21185285
MURF2 isoforms; Ubiquitin E3 ligase; p62; SQSTM1; A170; nbr1; Myofibrils; Microtubule dynamics; Cardiac development; titin
5.  Structure and Interactions of Myosin-binding Protein C Domain C0 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(14):12650-12658.
Myosin-binding protein C (MyBP-C) is a multidomain protein present in the thick filaments of striated muscles and is involved in both sarcomere formation and contraction regulation. The latter function is believed to be located at the N terminus, which is close to the motor domain of myosin. The cardiac isoform of MyBP-C is linked to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Here, we use NMR spectroscopy and biophysical and biochemical assays to study the three-dimensional structure and interactions of the cardiac-specific Ig-like domain C0, a part of cardiac MyBP-C of which little is known. The structure confirmed that C0 is a member of the IgI class of proteins, showing many of the characteristic features of this fold. Moreover, we identify a novel interaction between C0 and the regulatory light chain of myosin, thus placing the N terminus of the protein in proximity to the motor domain of myosin. This novel interaction is disrupted by several cardiomyopathy-linked mutations in the MYBPC3 gene. These results provide new insights into how cardiac MyBP-C incorporates in the sarcomere and how it can contribute to the regulation of muscle contraction.
PMCID: PMC3069465  PMID: 21297165
Cardiac Muscle; Myosin; NMR; Protein Structure; Protein-Protein Interactions; Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy; Myosin-binding Protein C; Regulatory Light Chain
6.  Myosin Binding Protein C Positioned to Play a Key Role in Regulation of Muscle Contraction: Structure and Interactions of Domain C1 
Journal of Molecular Biology  2008;384(3):615-630.
Myosin binding protein C (MyBP-C) is a thick filament protein involved in the regulation of muscle contraction. Mutations in the gene for MyBP-C are the second most frequent cause of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. MyBP-C binds to myosin with two binding sites, one at its C-terminus and another at its N-terminus. The N-terminal binding site, consisting of immunoglobulin domains C1 and C2 connected by a flexible linker, interacts with the S2 segment of myosin in a phosphorylation-regulated manner. It is assumed that the function of MyBP-C is to act as a tether that fixes the S1 heads in a resting position and that phosphorylation releases the S1 heads into an active state. Here, we report the structure and binding properties of domain C1. Using a combination of site-directed mutagenesis and NMR interaction experiments, we identified the binding site of domain C1 in the immediate vicinity of the S1–S2 hinge, very close to the light chains. In addition, we identified a zinc binding site on domain C1 in close proximity to the S2 binding site. Its zinc binding affinity (Kd of approximately 10–20 μM) might not be sufficient for a physiological effect. However, the familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-related mutation of one of the zinc ligands, glutamine 210 to histidine, will significantly increase the binding affinity, suggesting that this mutation may affect S2 binding. The close proximity of the C1 binding site to the hinge, the light chains and the S1 heads also provides an explanation for recent observations that (a) shorter fragments of MyBP-C unable to act as a tether still have an effect on the actomyosin ATPase and (b) as to why the myosin head positions in phosphorylated wild-type mice and MyBP-C knockout mice are so different: Domain C1 bound to the S1–S2 hinge is able to manipulate S1 head positions, thus influencing force generation without tether. The potentially extensive extra interactions of C1 are expected to keep it in place, while phosphorylation dislodges the C1–C2 linker and domain C2. As a result, the myosin heads would always be attached to a tether that has phosphorylation-dependent length regulation.
PMCID: PMC2631168  PMID: 18926831
MyBP-C, myosin binding protein C; FHC, familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; WTWT, wild type; IgI, immunoglobulin I; C1C2, C1–linker–C2; NOE, nuclear Overhauser enhancement; MD, molecular dynamics; domain C1; NMR spectroscopy; model building; mutagenesis; protein structure
7.  Obscurin, a giant sarcomeric Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor protein involved in sarcomere assembly 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;154(1):123-136.
Vertebrate-striated muscle is assumed to owe its remarkable order to the molecular ruler functions of the giant modular signaling proteins, titin and nebulin. It was believed that these two proteins represented unique results of protein evolution in vertebrate muscle. In this paper we report the identification of a third giant protein from vertebrate muscle, obscurin, encoded on chromosome 1q42. Obscurin is ∼800 kD and is expressed specifically in skeletal and cardiac muscle. The complete cDNA sequence of obscurin reveals a modular architecture, consisting of >67 intracellular immunoglobulin (Ig)- or fibronectin-3–like domains with multiple splice variants. A large region of obscurin shows a modular architecture of tandem Ig domains reminiscent of the elastic region of titin. The COOH-terminal region of obscurin interacts via two specific Ig-like domains with the NH2-terminal Z-disk region of titin. Both proteins coassemble during myofibrillogenesis. During the progression of myofibrillogenesis, all obscurin epitopes become detectable at the M band. The presence of a calmodulin-binding IQ motif, and a Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor domain in the COOH-terminal region suggest that obscurin is involved in Ca2+/calmodulin, as well as G protein–coupled signal transduction in the sarcomere.
PMCID: PMC2196875  PMID: 11448995
obscurin; Rho GTPases; GEF proteins; myofibril; heart muscle
8.  I-Band Titin in Cardiac Muscle Is a Three-Element Molecular Spring and Is Critical for Maintaining Thin Filament Structure 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1999;146(3):631-644.
In cardiac muscle, the giant protein titin exists in different length isoforms expressed in the molecule's I-band region. Both isoforms, termed N2-A and N2-B, comprise stretches of Ig-like modules separated by the PEVK domain. Central I-band titin also contains isoform-specific Ig-motifs and nonmodular sequences, notably a longer insertion in N2-B. We investigated the elastic behavior of the I-band isoforms by using single-myofibril mechanics, immunofluorescence microscopy, and immunoelectron microscopy of rabbit cardiac sarcomeres stained with sequence-assigned antibodies. Moreover, we overexpressed constructs from the N2-B region in chick cardiac cells to search for possible structural properties of this cardiac-specific segment.
We found that cardiac titin contains three distinct elastic elements: poly-Ig regions, the PEVK domain, and the N2-B sequence insertion, which extends ∼60 nm at high physiological stretch. Recruitment of all three elements allows cardiac titin to extend fully reversibly at physiological sarcomere lengths, without the need to unfold Ig domains. Overexpressing the entire N2-B region or its NH2 terminus in cardiac myocytes greatly disrupted thin filament, but not thick filament structure. Our results strongly suggest that the NH2-terminal N2-B domains are necessary to stabilize thin filament integrity. N2-B–titin emerges as a unique region critical for both reversible extensibility and structural maintenance of cardiac myofibrils.
PMCID: PMC2150553  PMID: 10444071
heart muscle; connectin; elasticity; transfection; sarcomere

Results 1-8 (8)