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author:("Thorpe, aaron")
1.  Knockdown of embryonic myosin heavy chain reveals an essential role in the morphology and function of the developing heart 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2011;138(18):3955-3966.
The expression and function of embryonic myosin heavy chain (eMYH) has not been investigated within the early developing heart. This is despite the knowledge that other structural proteins, such as alpha and beta myosin heavy chains and cardiac alpha actin, play crucial roles in atrial septal development and cardiac function. Most cases of atrial septal defects and cardiomyopathy are not associated with a known causative gene, suggesting that further analysis into candidate genes is required. Expression studies localised eMYH in the developing chick heart. eMYH knockdown was achieved using morpholinos in a temporal manner and functional studies were carried out using electrical and calcium signalling methodologies. Knockdown in the early embryo led to abnormal atrial septal development and heart enlargement. Intriguingly, action potentials of the eMYH knockdown hearts were abnormal in comparison with the alpha and beta myosin heavy chain knockdowns and controls. Although myofibrillogenesis appeared normal, in knockdown hearts the tissue integrity was affected owing to apparent focal points of myocyte loss and an increase in cell death. An expression profile of human skeletal myosin heavy chain genes suggests that human myosin heavy chain 3 is the functional homologue of the chick eMYH gene. These data provide compelling evidence that eMYH plays a crucial role in important processes in the early developing heart and, hence, is a candidate causative gene for atrial septal defects and cardiomyopathy.
doi:10.1242/dev.059063
PMCID: PMC3160091  PMID: 21862559
Atrial septal development; Cardiomyopathy; Myosin; Chick
2.  Zebrafish deficient for Muscleblind-like 2 exhibit features of myotonic dystrophy 
Disease Models & Mechanisms  2011;4(3):381-392.
SUMMARY
Myotonic dystrophy (DM; also known as dystrophia myotonica) is an autosomal dominant disorder that affects the heart, eyes, brain and endocrine system, but the predominant symptoms are neuromuscular, with progressive muscle weakness and wasting. DM presents in two forms, DM1 and DM2, both of which are caused by nucleotide repeat expansions: CTG in the DMPK gene for DM1 and CCTG in ZNF9 (CNBP) for DM2. Previous studies have shown that the mutant mRNAs containing the transcribed CUG or CCUG repeats are retained within the nuclei of cells from individuals with DM, where they bind and sequester the muscleblind-like proteins MBNL1, MBNL2 and MBNL3. It has been proposed that the sequestration of these proteins plays a key role in determining the classic features of DM. However, the functions of each of the three MBNL genes are not completely understood. We have generated a zebrafish knockdown model in which we demonstrate that a lack of mbnl2 function causes morphological abnormalities at the eye, heart, brain and muscle levels, supporting an essential role for mbnl2 during embryonic development. Major features of DM are replicated in our model, including muscle defects and splicing abnormalities. We found that the absence of mbnl2 causes disruption to the organization of myofibrils in skeletal and heart muscle of zebrafish embryos, and a reduction in the amount of both slow and fast muscle fibres. Notably, our findings included altered splicing patterns of two transcripts whose expression is also altered in DM patients: clcn1 and tnnt2. The studies described herein provide broader insight into the functions of MBNL2. They also lend support to the hypothesis that the sequestration of this protein is an important determinant in DM pathophysiology, and imply a direct role of MBNL2 in splicing regulation of specific transcripts, which, when altered, contributes to the DM phenotype.
doi:10.1242/dmm.004150
PMCID: PMC3097459  PMID: 21303839

Results 1-2 (2)