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1.  Dynamic Conduction and Repolarisation Changes in Early Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy versus Benign Outflow Tract Ectopy Demonstrated by High Density Mapping & Paced Surface ECG Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e99125.
The concealed phase of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) may initially manifest electrophysiologically. No studies have examined dynamic conduction/repolarization kinetics to distinguish benign right ventricular outflow tract ectopy (RVOT ectopy) from ARVC's early phase. We investigated dynamic endocardial electrophysiological changes that differentiate early ARVC disease expression from RVOT ectopy.
22 ARVC (12 definite based upon family history and mutation carrier status, 10 probable) patients without right ventricular structural anomalies underwent high-density non-contact mapping of the right ventricle. These were compared to data from 14 RVOT ectopy and 12 patients with supraventricular tachycardias and normal hearts. Endocardial & surface ECG conduction and repolarization parameters were assessed during a standard S1-S2 restitution protocol.
Definite ARVC without RV structural disease could not be clearly distinguished from RVOT ectopy during sinus rhythm or during steady state pacing. Delay in Activation Times at coupling intervals just above the ventricular effective refractory period (VERP) increased in definite ARVC (43±20 ms) more than RVOT ectopy patients (36±14 ms, p = 0.03) or Normals (25±16 ms, p = 0.008) and a progressive separation of the repolarisation time curves between groups existed. Repolarization time increases in the RVOT were also greatest in ARVC (definite ARVC: 18±20 ms; RVOT ectopy: 5±14, Normal: 1±18, p<0.05). Surface ECG correlates of these intracardiac measurements demonstrated an increase of greater than 48 ms in stimulus to surface ECG J-point pre-ERP versus steady state, with an 88% specificity and 68% sensitivity in distinguishing definite ARVC from the other groups. This technique could not distinguish patients with genetic predisposition to ARVC only (probable ARVC) from controls.
Significant changes in dynamic conduction and repolarization are apparent in early ARVC before detectable RV structural abnormalities, and were present to a lesser degree in probable ARVC patients. Investigation of dynamic electrophysiological parameters may be useful to identify concealed ARVC in patients without disease pedigrees by using endocardial electrogram or paced ECG parameters.
PMCID: PMC4094482  PMID: 25014132
2.  A Novel Myosin Essential Light Chain Mutation Causes Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy with Late Onset and Low Expressivity 
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is caused by mutations in genes encoding sarcomere proteins. Mutations in MYL3, encoding the essential light chain of myosin, are rare and have been associated with sudden death. Both recessive and dominant patterns of inheritance have been suggested. We studied a large family with a 38-year-old asymptomatic HCM-affected male referred because of a murmur. The patient had HCM with left ventricular hypertrophy (max WT 21 mm), a resting left ventricular outflow gradient of 36 mm Hg, and left atrial dilation (54 mm). Genotyping revealed heterozygosity for a novel missense mutation, p.V79I, in MYL3. The mutation was not found in 300 controls, and the patient had no mutations in 10 sarcomere genes. Cascade screening revealed a further nine heterozygote mutation carriers, three of whom had ECG and/or echocardiographic abnormalities but did not fulfil diagnostic criteria for HCM. The penetrance, if we consider this borderline HCM the phenotype of the p.V79I mutation, was 40%, but the mean age of the nonpenetrant mutation carriers is 15, while the mean age of the penetrant mutation carriers is 47. The mutation affects a conserved valine replacing it with a larger isoleucine residue in the region of contact between the light chain and the myosin lever arm. In conclusion, MYL3 mutations can present with low expressivity and late onset.
PMCID: PMC3432877  PMID: 22957257
3.  Electrophysiological abnormalities precede overt structural changes in arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy due to mutations in desmoplakin-A combined murine and human study 
European Heart Journal  2012;33(15):1942-1953.
Anecdotal observations suggest that sub-clinical electrophysiological manifestations of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) develop before detectable structural changes ensue on cardiac imaging. To test this hypothesis, we investigated a murine model with conditional cardiac genetic deletion of one desmoplakin allele (DSP ±) and compared the findings to patients with non-diagnostic features of ARVC who carried mutations in desmoplakin.
Methods and results
Murine: the DSP (±) mice underwent electrophysiological, echocardiographic, and immunohistochemical studies. They had normal echocardiograms but delayed conduction and inducible ventricular tachycardia associated with mislocalization and reduced intercalated disc expression of Cx43. Sodium current density and myocardial histology were normal at 2 months of age. Human: ten patients with heterozygous mutations in DSP without overt structural heart disease (DSP+) and 12 controls with supraventricular tachycardia were studied by high-density electrophysiological mapping of the right ventricle. Using a standard S1–S2 protocol, restitution curves of local conduction and repolarization parameters were constructed. Significantly greater mean increases in delay were identified particularly in the outflow tract vs. controls (P< 0.01) coupled with more uniform wavefront progression. The odds of a segment with a maximal activation–repolarization interval restitution slope >1 was 99% higher (95% CI: 13%; 351%, P= 0.017) in DSP+ vs. controls. Immunostaining revealed Cx43 mislocalization and variable Na channel distribution.
Desmoplakin disease causes connexin mislocalization in the mouse and man preceding any overt histological abnormalities resulting in significant alterations in conduction–repolarization kinetics prior to morphological changes detectable on conventional cardiac imaging. Haploinsufficiency of desmoplakin is sufficient to cause significant Cx43 mislocalization. Changes in sodium current density and histological abnormalities may contribute to a worsening phenotype or disease but are not necessary to generate an arrhythmogenic substrate. This has important implications for the earlier diagnosis of ARVC and risk stratification.
PMCID: PMC3409421  PMID: 22240500
Arrhythmia; Conduction; ARVC; Repolarization; Desmosome; Desmoplakin
4.  A novel desmocollin-2 mutation reveals insights into the molecular link between desmosomes and gap junctions 
Heart Rhythm  2011;8(5):711-718.
Cellular adhesion mediated by cardiac desmosomes is a prerequisite for proper electric propagation mediated by gap junctions in the myocardium. However, the molecular principles underlying this interdependence are not fully understood.
The purpose of this study was to determine potential causes of right ventricular conduction abnormalities in a patient with borderline diagnosis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.
To assess molecular changes, the patient's myocardial tissue was analyzed for altered desmosomal and gap junction (connexin43) protein levels and localization. In vitro functional studies were performed to characterize the consequences of the desmosomal mutations.
Loss of plakoglobin signal was evident at the cell junctions despite expression of the protein at control levels. Although the distribution of connexin43 was not altered, total protein levels were reduced and changes in phosphorylation were observed. The truncation mutant in desmocollin-2a is deficient in binding plakoglobin. Moreover, the ability of desmocollin-2a to directly interact with connexin43 was abolished by the mutation. No pathogenic potential of the desmoglein-2 missense change was identified.
The observed abnormalities in gap junction protein expression and phosphorylation, which precede an overt cardiac phenotype, likely are responsible for slow myocardial conduction in this patient. At the molecular level, altered binding properties of the desmocollin-2a mutant may contribute to the changes in connexin43. In particular, the newly identified interaction between the desmocollin-2a isoform and connexin43 provides novel insights into the molecular link between desmosomes and gap junctions.
PMCID: PMC3085091  PMID: 21220045
Cardiomyopathy; Conduction; Connexin43; Desmocollin-2; Desmoglein-2; Desmosome; Functional studies; Gap junction; Mutation; Plakoglobin; ARVC, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Cx43, connexin43; DAPI, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; DSC2, desmocollin-2; DSG2, desmoglein-2; DSP, desmoplakin; GFP, green fluorescent protein; GST, glutathione-S-transferase; ICS, intracellular cadherin segment; PG, plakoglobin; PKP2, plakophilin-2; RV, right ventricle; YFP, yellow fluorescent protein
5.  Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia on the basis of the revised diagnostic criteria in affected families with desmosomal mutations 
European Heart Journal  2011;32(9):1097-1104.
To evaluate arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia (ARVC/D) in affected families with desmosome mutations on the basis of the recently revised Task Force Criteria (TFC).
Methods and results
One hundred and three consecutive carriers of pathogenic desmosome mutations and 102 mutation-negative relatives belonging to 22 families with dominant and 14 families with recessive ARVC/D were evaluated according to the original and revised TFC. Serial cardiac assessment with 12-lead, signal-averaged, and 24 h ambulatory ECG and two-dimensional echocardiography was performed. Clinical events and outcome were prospectively analysed up to 24 years (median 4 years). With the revised criteria, 16 carriers were newly diagnosed on the basis of ECG abnormalities in 100%, ventricular arrhythmias in 79%, and functional/structural alterations in 31%, increasing diagnostic sensitivity from 57 to 71% (P = 0.001). Task Force Criteria specificity improved from 92 to 99% (P = 0.016). In dominant mutation carriers, penetrance changed significantly (61 vs. 42%, P = 0.001); no changes were observed in recessive homozygous carriers (97 vs. 97%, P = 1.00). Affected carriers according to the revised TFC (n = 73) had 12-lead ECG abnormalities in 96%, ventricular arrhythmias in 91%, and functional/structural alterations fulfilling echocardiographic criteria in 76%. Cumulative and event-free survival did not differ significantly between dominant and recessive affected carriers, being at 78.6 vs. 76 and 51.7 vs. 55.4%, respectively, by the age of 40 years.
Revised TFC increased diagnostic sensitivity particularly in dominant ARVC/D. Serial family evaluation may rely on electrocardiography which seems to have the best diagnostic utility particularly in early disease that is not detectable by two-dimensional echocardiography.
PMCID: PMC3086899  PMID: 21345848
Cardiomyopathy; Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia; Diagnostic criteria; Desmosome mutations
6.  Mechanistic insights into arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy caused by desmocollin-2 mutations 
Cardiovascular Research  2010;90(1):77-87.
Recent immunohistochemical studies observed the loss of plakoglobin (PG) from the intercalated disc (ID) as a hallmark of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), suggesting a final common pathway for this disease. However, the underlying molecular processes are poorly understood.
Methods and results
We have identified novel mutations in the desmosomal cadherin desmocollin 2 (DSC2 R203C, L229X, T275M, and G371fsX378). The two missense mutations (DSC2 R203C and T275M) have been functionally characterized, together with a previously reported frameshift variant (DSC2 A897fsX900), to examine their pathogenic potential towards PG's functions at the ID. The three mutant proteins were transiently expressed in various cellular systems and assayed for expression, processing, localization, and binding to other desmosomal components in comparison to wild-type DSC2a protein. The two missense mutations showed defects in proteolytic cleavage, a process which is required for the functional activation of mature cadherins. In both cases, this is thought to cause a reduction of functional DSC2 at the desmosomes in cardiac cells. In contrast, the frameshift variant was incorporated into cardiac desmosomes; however, it showed reduced binding to PG.
Despite different modes of action, for all three variants, the reduced ability to provide a ligand for PG at the desmosomes was observed. This is in agreement with the reduced intensity of PG at these structures observed in ARVC patients.
PMCID: PMC3058729  PMID: 21062920
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Desmocollin-2; Desmosome; Functional studies; Mutation
7.  Novel missense mutations in exon 15 of desmoglein-2: Role of the intracellular cadherin segment in arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy? 
Heart Rhythm  2010;7(10):1446-1453.
The diagnosis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy can be challenging. Disease-causing mutations in desmosomal genes have been identified. A novel diagnostic feature, loss of immunoreactivity for plakoglobin from the intercalated disks, recently was proposed.
The purpose of this study was to identify two novel mutations in the intracellular cadherin segment of desmoglein-2 (G812S and C813R in exon 15). Co-segregation of the G812S mutation with disease expression was established in a large Caucasian family. Endomyocardial biopsies of two individuals showed reduced plakoglobin signal at the intercalated disk.
To understand the pathologic changes occurring in the diseased myocardium, functional studies on three mutations in exon 15 of desmoglein-2 (G812C, G812S, C813R) were performed.
Localization studies failed to detect any differences in targeting or stability of the mutant proteins, suggesting that they act via a dominant negative mechanism. Binding assays were performed to probe for altered binding affinities toward other desmosomal proteins, such as plakoglobin and plakophilin-2. Although no differences were observed for the mutated proteins in comparison to wild-type desmoglein-2, binding to plakophilin-2 depended on the expression system (i.e., bacterial vs mammalian protein expression). In addition, abnormal migration of the C813R mutant protein was observed in gel electrophoresis.
Loss of plakoglobin immunoreactivity from the intercalated disks appears to be the endpoint of complex pathologic changes, and our functional data suggest that yet unknown posttranslational modifications of desmoglein-2 might be involved.
PMCID: PMC2994644  PMID: 20708101
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Desmoglein-2; Desmosome; Genetics; Missense mutation; Plakophilin-2; ARVC, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Cx43, connexin43; DSC2, desmocollin-2; DSG2, desmoglein-2; DSP, desmoplakin; GFP, green fluorescent protein; GST, glutathione-S-transferase; ICS, intracellular cadherin segment; PG, plakoglobin; PKP2, plakophilin-2; RV, right ventricle
8.  Genetic complexity in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy revealed by high-throughput sequencing 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2013;50(4):228-239.
Clinical interpretation of the large number of rare variants identified by high throughput sequencing (HTS) technologies is challenging. The aim of this study was to explore the clinical implications of a HTS strategy for patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) using a targeted HTS methodology and workflow developed for patients with a range of inherited cardiovascular diseases. By comparing the sequencing results with published findings and with sequence data from a large-scale exome sequencing screen of UK individuals, we sought to quantify the strength of the evidence supporting causality for detected candidate variants.
Methods and results
223 unrelated patients with HCM (46±15 years at diagnosis, 74% males) were studied. In order to analyse coding, intronic and regulatory regions of 41 cardiovascular genes, we used solution-based sequence capture followed by massive parallel resequencing on Illumina GAIIx. Average read-depth in the 2.1 Mb target region was 120. Rare (frequency<0.5%) non-synonymous, loss-of-function and splice-site variants were defined as candidates. Excluding titin, we identified 152 distinct candidate variants in sarcomeric or associated genes (89 novel) in 143 patients (64%). Four sarcomeric genes (MYH7, MYBPC3, TNNI3, TNNT2) showed an excess of rare single non-synonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms (nsSNPs) in cases compared to controls. The estimated probability that a nsSNP in these genes is pathogenic varied between 57% and near certainty depending on the location. We detected an additional 94 candidate variants (73 novel) in desmosomal, and ion-channel genes in 96 patients (43%).
This study provides the first large-scale quantitative analysis of the prevalence of sarcomere protein gene variants in patients with HCM using HTS technology. Inclusion of other genes implicated in inherited cardiac disease identifies a large number of non-synonymous rare variants of unknown clinical significance.
PMCID: PMC3607113  PMID: 23396983
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy; Genetics; High-throughput sequencing

Results 1-8 (8)