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.
actin; tropomodulin; tropomyosin; nebulin; proximal segment; distal segment
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.
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.
cell membrane; cytoskeletal connections; muscle contraction; sarcomere; sarcoplasmic reticulum; thin filament
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
The mechanism of muscle weakness was investigated in an Australian family with a M9R mutation in TPM3 (α-tropomyosinslow). Detailed protein analyses of five muscle samples from two patients showed that nemaline bodies are restricted to atrophied type 1 (slow) fibers in which the TPM3 gene is expressed. Developmental expression studies showed that α-tropomyosinslow is not expressed at significant levels until after birth, thereby likely explaining the childhood (rather than congenital) disease onset in TPM3 nemaline myopathy. Isoelectric focusing demonstrated that α-tropomyosinslow dimers, comprised of equal ratios of wild-type and M9R-α-tropomyosinslow, are the dominant tropomyosin species in three separate muscle groups from an affected patient. These findings suggest that myopathy-related slow fiber predominance likely contributes to the severity of weakness in TPM3 nemaline myopathy because of increased proportions of fibers that express the mutant protein. Using recombinant proteins and far Western blot we demonstrated a higher affinity of tropomodulin for α-tropomyosinslow compared to β-tropomyosin; the M9R substitution within α-tropomyosinslow greatly reduced this interaction. Finally, transfection of the M9R mutated and wild-type α-tropomyosinslow into myoblasts revealed reduced incorporation into stress fibers and disruption of the filamentous actin network by the mutant protein. Collectively, these results provide insights into the clinical features and pathogenesis of M9R-TPM3 nemaline myopathy.
Disease severity; Nemaline myopathy; Skeletal muscle; Tropomodulin; Tropomyosin
The actin cytoskeleton is locally regulated for functional specializations for cell motility. Using quantitative fluorescent speckle microscopy (qFSM) of migrating epithelial cells, we previously defined two distinct F-actin networks based on their F-actin–binding proteins and distinct patterns of F-actin turnover and movement. The lamellipodium consists of a treadmilling F-actin array with rapid polymerization-dependent retrograde flow and contains high concentrations of Arp2/3 and ADF/cofilin, whereas the lamella exhibits spatially random punctae of F-actin assembly and disassembly with slow myosin-mediated retrograde flow and contains myosin II and tropomyosin (TM). In this paper, we microinjected skeletal muscle αTM into epithelial cells, and using qFSM, electron microscopy, and immunolocalization show that this inhibits functional lamellipodium formation. Cells with inhibited lamellipodia exhibit persistent leading edge protrusion and rapid cell migration. Inhibition of endogenous long TM isoforms alters protrusion persistence. Thus, cells can migrate with inhibited lamellipodia, and we suggest that TM is a major regulator of F-actin functional specialization in migrating cells.
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
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
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.
macrolactonization; natural products; polyketides; total synthesis