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1.  Dynamic actin filaments control the mechanical behavior of the human red blood cell membrane 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2015;26(9):1699-1710.
The short actin filaments in the spectrin-actin membrane skeleton of human red blood cells (RBCs) are capable of dynamic subunit exchange and mobility. Actin dynamics in RBCs regulates the biomechanical properties of the RBC membrane.
Short, uniform-length actin filaments function as structural nodes in the spectrin-actin membrane skeleton to optimize the biomechanical properties of red blood cells (RBCs). Despite the widespread assumption that RBC actin filaments are not dynamic (i.e., do not exchange subunits with G-actin in the cytosol), this assumption has never been rigorously tested. Here we show that a subpopulation of human RBC actin filaments is indeed dynamic, based on rhodamine-actin incorporation into filaments in resealed ghosts and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) analysis of actin filament mobility in intact RBCs (∼25–30% of total filaments). Cytochalasin-D inhibition of barbed-end exchange reduces rhodamine-actin incorporation and partially attenuates FRAP recovery, indicating functional interaction between actin subunit turnover at the single-filament level and mobility at the membrane-skeleton level. Moreover, perturbation of RBC actin filament assembly/disassembly with latrunculin-A or jasplakinolide induces an approximately twofold increase or ∼60% decrease, respectively, in soluble actin, resulting in altered membrane deformability, as determined by alterations in RBC transit time in a microfluidic channel assay, as well as by abnormalities in spontaneous membrane oscillations (flickering). These experiments identify a heretofore-unrecognized but functionally important subpopulation of RBC actin filaments, whose properties and architecture directly control the biomechanical properties of the RBC membrane.
PMCID: PMC4436781  PMID: 25717184
2.  Tropomyosin is required for cardiac morphogenesis, myofibril assembly, and formation of adherens junctions in the developing mouse embryo 
We explored a function for tropomyosin (TM) in mammalian myofibril assembly and cardiac development by analyzing a deletion in the mouse TPM1 gene targeting αTM1, the major striated muscle TM isoform.
Mice lacking αTM1 are embryonic lethal at E9.5 with enlarged, misshapen, and non-beating hearts characterized by an abnormally thin myocardium and reduced trabeculae. αTM1-deficient cardiomyocytes do not assemble striated myofibrils, instead displaying aberrant non-striated F-actin fibrils with α-actinin puncta dispersed irregularly along their lengths. αTM1’s binding partner, tropomodulin1 (Tmod1), is also disorganized, and both myomesin-containing thick filaments as well as titin Z1Z2 fail to assemble in a striated pattern. Adherens junctions are reduced in size in αTM1-deficient cardiomyocytes, α-actinin/F-actin adherens belts fail to assemble at apical cell-cell contacts, and cell contours are highly irregular, resulting in abnormal cell shapes and a highly folded cardiac surface. In addition, Tmod1-deficient cardiomyocytes exhibit failure of α-actinin/F-actin adherens belt assembly.
Absence of αTM1 resulting in unstable F-actin may preclude sarcomere formation and/or lead to degeneration of partially assembled sarcomeres due to unregulated actomyosin interactions. Our data also identify a novel αTM1/Tmod1-based pathway stabilizing F-actin at cell-cell junctions, which may be required for maintenance of cell shapes during embryonic cardiac morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4031292  PMID: 24500875
α-actinin; cell junction; cardiomyocyte; heart; myofibrillogenesis; myomesin; thin filament; titin; tropomodulin1
3.  Functional effects of mutations in the tropomyosin-binding sites of tropomodulin1 and tropomodulin3 
Cytoskeleton (Hoboken, N.J.)  2014;71(7):395-411.
Tropomodulins (Tmods) interact with tropomyosins (TMs) via two TM-binding sites and cap the pointed ends of TM-coated actin filaments. To study the functional interplay between TM binding and TM-actin filament capping by Tmods, we introduced disabling mutations into the first, second, or both TM-binding sites of full-length Tmod1 (Tmod1-L27G, Tmod1-I131D, and Tmod1-L27G/I131D, respectively) and full-length Tmod3 (Tmod3-L29G, Tmod3-L134D, and Tmod3-L29G/L134D, respectively). Tmod1 and Tmod3 showed somewhat different TM-binding site utilization, but nearly all TM binding was abolished in Tmod1-L27G/I131D and Tmod3-L29G/L134D. Disruption of Tmod-TM binding had a modest effect on Tmod1's ability and no effect on Tmod3's ability to stabilize TM-actin pointed ends against latrunculin A-induced depolymerization. However, disruption of Tmod-TM binding did significantly impair the ability of Tmod3 to reduce elongation rates at pointed ends with α/βTM, albeit less so with TM5NM1, and not at all with TM5b. For Tmod1, disruption of Tmod-TM binding only slightly impaired its ability to reduce elongation rates with α/βTM and TM5NM1, but not at all with TM5b. Thus, Tmod-TM binding has a greater influence on Tmods’ ability to inhibit subunit association as compared to dissociation from TM-actin pointed ends, particularly for α/βTM, with Tmod3's activity being more dependent on TM binding than Tmod1's activity. Nevertheless, disruption of Tmod1-TM binding precluded Tmod1 targeting to thin filament pointed ends in cardiac myocytes, suggesting that the functional effects of Tmod-TM binding on TM-coated actin filament capping can be significantly modulated by the in vivo conformation of the pointed end or other factors in the intracellular environment.
PMCID: PMC4347929  PMID: 24922351
4.  Thin filament architecture in skeletal muscle: a two-segment model 
Correct specification of myofilament lengths is essential for efficient skeletal muscle contraction. Thin filament lengths are best specified by a novel ‘two-segment’ model, wherein the thin filament consists of two concatenated segments, of either constant or variable length, rather than by the classical ‘nebulin ruler’ model, wherein the thin filament is a uniform structure whose length is dictated by nebulin. The two-segment model implicates position-specific ‘differential microregulation’ of actin dynamics as a general principle underlying actin filament lengths and stability.
PMCID: PMC3711620  PMID: 23299957
actin; tropomodulin; tropomyosin; nebulin; proximal segment; distal segment
5.  Tropomodulins: pointed-end capping proteins that regulate actin filament architecture in diverse cell types 
Cytoskeleton (Hoboken, N.J.)  2012;69(6):337-370.
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.
PMCID: PMC3444156  PMID: 22488942
6.  The sarcoplasmic reticulum 
Bioarchitecture  2011;1(4):175-179.
Skeletal muscle exhibits strikingly regular intracellular sorting of actin and tropomodulin (Tmod) isoforms, which are essential for efficient muscle contraction. A recent study from our laboratory demonstrates that the skeletal muscle sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) is associated with cytoplasmic γ-actin (γcyto-actin) filaments, which are predominantly capped by Tmod3. When Tmod3 is experimentally induced to vacate its SR compartment, the cytoskeletal organization of SR-associated γcyto-actin is perturbed, leading to SR swelling, depressed SR Ca2+ release and myofibril misalignment. Based on these findings, Tmod3-capped γcyto-actin filaments mechanically stabilize SR structure and regulate SR function via a novel lateral linkage. Furthermore, by placing these findings in the context of studies in nonmuscle cells, we conclude that Tmodcapped actin filaments are emerging as critical regulators of membrane stability and physiology in a broad assortment of cell types.
PMCID: PMC3210515  PMID: 22069510
cell membrane; cytoskeletal connections; muscle contraction; sarcomere; sarcoplasmic reticulum; thin filament
7.  Tropomodulins are negative regulators of neurite outgrowth 
European journal of cell biology  2010;90(4):291-300.
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.
PMCID: PMC3042488  PMID: 21146252
Tropomodulin; F-actin; neurite outgrowth; N2a mouse neuroblastoma cells; cultured hippocampal neurons
8.  Cytoplasmic γ-actin and tropomodulin isoforms link to the sarcoplasmic reticulum in skeletal muscle fibers 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;194(1):105-120.
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.
PMCID: PMC3135406  PMID: 21727195
9.  Tropomodulin Capping of Actin Filaments in Striated Muscle Development and Physiology 
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.
PMCID: PMC3196151  PMID: 22013379
10.  Tropomodulin isoforms regulate thin filament pointed-end capping and skeletal muscle physiology 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2010;189(1):95-109.
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.
PMCID: PMC2854367  PMID: 20368620
11.  Tropomodulin1 is required for membrane skeleton organization and hexagonal geometry of fiber cells in the mouse lens 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;186(6):915-928.
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.
PMCID: PMC2753162  PMID: 19752024
12.  Aberrant myofibril assembly in tropomodulin1 null mice leads to aborted heart development and embryonic lethality 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;163(5):1033-1044.
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.
PMCID: PMC2173615  PMID: 14657235
actin; tropomodulin; tropomyosin; sarcomere; cardiac muscle
13.  Pointed-end capping by tropomodulin3 negatively regulates endothelial cell motility 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;161(2):371-380.
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.
PMCID: PMC2172920  PMID: 12707310
cytoskeleton; angiogenesis; actin; tropomyosin; lamellipodia
14.  Thin filaments elongate from their pointed ends during myofibril assembly in Drosophila indirect flight muscle 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2001;155(6):1043-1054.
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.
PMCID: PMC2150893  PMID: 11739412
actin-capping protein; thin filaments; myofibril; sanpodo; tropomodulin
15.  Leiomodin-3 dysfunction results in thin filament disorganization and nemaline myopathy 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(11):4693-4708.
Nemaline myopathy (NM) is a genetic muscle disorder characterized by muscle dysfunction and electron-dense protein accumulations (nemaline bodies) in myofibers. Pathogenic mutations have been described in 9 genes to date, but the genetic basis remains unknown in many cases. Here, using an approach that combined whole-exome sequencing (WES) and Sanger sequencing, we identified homozygous or compound heterozygous variants in LMOD3 in 21 patients from 14 families with severe, usually lethal, NM. LMOD3 encodes leiomodin-3 (LMOD3), a 65-kDa protein expressed in skeletal and cardiac muscle. LMOD3 was expressed from early stages of muscle differentiation; localized to actin thin filaments, with enrichment near the pointed ends; and had strong actin filament-nucleating activity. Loss of LMOD3 in patient muscle resulted in shortening and disorganization of thin filaments. Knockdown of lmod3 in zebrafish replicated NM-associated functional and pathological phenotypes. Together, these findings indicate that mutations in the gene encoding LMOD3 underlie congenital myopathy and demonstrate that LMOD3 is essential for the organization of sarcomeric thin filaments in skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC4347224  PMID: 25250574
17.  Alterations in thin filament length during postnatal skeletal muscle development and aging in mice 
The lengths of the sarcomeric thin filaments vary in a skeletal muscle-specific manner and help specify the physiological properties of skeletal muscle. Since the extent of overlap between the thin and thick filaments determines the amount of contractile force that a sarcomere can actively produce, thin filament lengths are accurate predictors of muscle-specific sarcomere length-tension relationships and sarcomere operating length ranges. However, the striking uniformity of thin filament lengths within sarcomeres, specified during myofibril assembly, has led to the widely held assumption that thin filament lengths remain constant throughout an organism's lifespan. Here, we rigorously tested this assumption by using computational super-resolution image analysis of confocal fluorescence images to explore the effects of postnatal development and aging on thin filament length in mice. We found that thin filaments shorten in postnatal tibialis anterior (TA) and gastrocnemius muscles between postnatal days 7 and 21, consistent with the developmental program of myosin heavy chain (MHC) gene expression in this interval. By contrast, thin filament lengths in TA and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles remained constant between 2 mo and 2 yr of age, while thin filament lengths in soleus muscle became shorter, suggestive of a slow-muscle-specific mechanism of thin filament destabilization associated with aging. Collectively, these data are the first to show that thin filament lengths change as part of normal skeletal muscle development and aging, motivating future investigations into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying thin filament adaptation across the lifespan.
PMCID: PMC4178374  PMID: 25324783
tropomodulin; actin; sarcomere; mouse; myofibril; myofilament
18.  Calpain-mediated proteolysis of tropomodulin isoforms leads to thin filament elongation in dystrophic skeletal muscle 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(6):852-865.
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.
PMCID: PMC3952854  PMID: 24430868
19.  Congenital myopathy-causing tropomyosin mutations induce thin filament dysfunction via distinct physiological mechanisms 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(20):4473-4485.
In humans, congenital myopathy-linked tropomyosin mutations lead to skeletal muscle dysfunction, but the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying such dysfunction remain obscure. Recent studies have suggested a unifying mechanism by which tropomyosin mutations partially inhibit thin filament activation and prevent proper formation and cycling of myosin cross-bridges, inducing force deficits at the fiber and whole-muscle levels. Here, we aimed to verify this mechanism using single membrane-permeabilized fibers from patients with three tropomyosin mutations (TPM2-null, TPM3-R167H and TPM2-E181K) and measuring a broad range of parameters. Interestingly, we identified two divergent, mutation-specific pathophysiological mechanisms. (i) The TPM2-null and TPM3-R167H mutations both decreased cooperative thin filament activation in combination with reductions in the myosin cross-bridge number and force production. The TPM3-R167H mutation also induced a concomitant reduction in thin filament length. (ii) In contrast, the TPM2-E181K mutation increased thin filament activation, cross-bridge binding and force generation. In the former mechanism, modulating thin filament activation by administering troponin activators (CK-1909178 and EMD 57033) to single membrane-permeabilized fibers carrying tropomyosin mutations rescued the thin filament activation defect associated with the pathophysiology. Therefore, administration of troponin activators may constitute a promising therapeutic approach in the future.
PMCID: PMC3459469  PMID: 22798622
20.  Characterization of Circulating Endothelial Cells in Acute Myocardial Infarction 
Science translational medicine  2012;4(126):126ra33.
Acute myocardial infarction (MI), which involves the rupture of existing atheromatous plaque, remains highly unpredictable despite recent advances in the diagnosis and treatment of coronary artery disease. Accordingly, a biomarker that can predict an impending MI is desperately needed. Here, we characterize circulating endothelial cells (CECs) using the first automated and clinically feasible CEC 3-channel fluorescence microscopy assay in 50 consecutive patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and 44 consecutive healthy controls. CEC counts were significantly elevated in MI cases versus controls with median numbers of 19 and 4 cells/ml respectively (p = 1.1 × 10−10). A receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis demonstrated an area under the ROC curve of 0.95, suggesting near dichotomization of MI cases versus controls. We observed no correlation between CECs and typical markers of myocardial necrosis (ρ=0.02, CK-MB; ρ=−0.03, troponin). Morphologic analysis of the microscopy images of CECs revealed a 2.5-fold increase (P<0.0001) in cellular area and 2-fold increase (P<0.0001) in nuclear area of MI CECs versus healthy control, age-matched CECs, as well as CECs obtained from patients with preexisting peripheral vascular disease. The distribution of CEC images containing from 2 up to 10 nuclei demonstrates that MI patients are the only group to contain more than 3 nuclei/image, indicating that multi-cellular and multi-nuclear clusters are specific for acute MI. These data indicate that CECs may serve as promising biomarkers for the prediction of atherosclerotic plaque rupture events.
PMCID: PMC3589570  PMID: 22440735
21.  Tmod1 and CP49 Synergize to Control the Fiber Cell Geometry, Transparency, and Mechanical Stiffness of the Mouse Lens 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48734.
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.
PMCID: PMC3492431  PMID: 23144950
22.  Single-cell Electrical Lysis of Erythrocytes Detects Deficiencies in the Cytoskeletal Protein Network 
Lab on a Chip  2011;11(18):3053-3056.
The network of erythrocyte cytoskeletal proteins significantly influences erythrocyte physical and biological properties. Here we show that the kinetics of erythrocyte lysis during exposure to an electric field is sensitively correlated with defects in the cytoskeletal network. Histograms compiled from single-cell electrical lysis data show characteristics of erythrocyte populations that are deficient in a specific cytoskeletal protein, revealing presence of cell subpopulations.
PMCID: PMC3286654  PMID: 21785802
23.  Total Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Monorhizopodin and 16-epi-Monorhizopodin** 
PMCID: PMC3139707  PMID: 21268213
macrolactonization; natural products; polyketides; total synthesis
Developmental biology  2010;349(2):363-377.
Extensive elongation of lens fiber cells is a central feature of lens morphogenesis. Our study investigates the role of N-cadherin junctions in this process in vivo. We investigate both the molecular players involved in N-cadherin junctional maturation and the subsequent function of these junctions as epicenters for the assembly of an actin cytoskeleton that drives morphogenesis. We present the first evidence of nascent cadherin junctions in vivo, and show they are a prominent feature along lateral interfaces of undifferentiated lens epithelial cells. Maturation of these N-cadherin junctions, required for lens cell differentiation, preceded organization of a cortical actin cytoskeleton along the cells’ lateral borders, but was linked to recruitment of α-catenin and dephosphorylation of N-cadherin-linked β-catenin. Biochemical analysis revealed differentiation-specific recruitment of actin regulators cortactin and Arp3 to maturing N-cadherin junctions of differentiating cells, linking N-cadherin junctional maturation with actin cytoskeletal assembly during fiber cell elongation. Blocking formation of mature N-cadherin junctions led to reduced association of α-catenin with N-cadherin, prevented organization of actin along lateral borders of differentiating lens fiber cells and blocked their elongation. These studies provide a molecular link between N-cadherin junctions and the organization of an actin cytoskeleton that governs lens fiber cell morphogenesis in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3018542  PMID: 20969840

Results 1-25 (29)