Cardiomyocytes grow during heart maturation or disease-related cardiac remodeling. We present evidence that the intercalated disc (ID) is integral to both longitudinal and lateral growth: increases in width are accommodated by lateral extension of the plicate tread regions and increases in length by sarcomere insertion within the ID. At the margin between myofibril and the folded membrane of the ID lies a transitional junction through which the thin filaments from the last sarcomere run to the ID membrane and it has been suggested that this junction acts as a proto Z-disc for sarcomere addition. In support of this hypothesis, we have investigated the ultrastructure of the ID in mouse hearts from control and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) models, the MLP-null and a cardiac-specific β-catenin mutant, cΔex3, as well as in human left ventricle from normal and DCM samples. We find that the ID amplitude can vary tenfold from 0.2 μm up to a maximum of ~2 μm allowing gradual expansion during heart growth. At the greatest amplitude, equivalent to a sarcomere length, A-bands and thick filaments are found within the ID membrane loops together with a Z-disc, which develops at the transitional junction position. Here, also, the tops of the membrane folds, which are rich in αII spectrin, become enlarged and associated with junctional sarcoplasmic reticulum. Systematically larger ID amplitudes are found in DCM samples. Other morphological differences between mouse DCM and normal hearts suggest that sarcomere inclusion is compromised in the diseased hearts.
Heart structure; Dilated cardiomyopathy; Adherens junction; Electron microscopy; Transitional junction
Myosin VI (MVI) is a unique unconventional motor moving backwards on actin filaments. In non-muscle cells, it is involved in cell migration, endocytosis and intracellular trafficking, actin cytoskeleton dynamics, and possibly in gene transcription. An important role for MVI in striated muscle functioning was suggested in a report showing that a point mutation (H236R) within the MVI gene was associated with cardiomyopathy (Mohiddin et al., J Med Genet 41:309–314, 2004). Here, we have addressed MVI function in striated muscle by examining its expression and distribution in rat hindlimb skeletal muscle. We found that MVI was present predominantly at the muscle fiber periphery, and it was also localized within muscle nuclei. Analysis of both the hindlimb and cardiac muscle longitudinal sections revealed ~3 μm striation pattern, corresponding to the sarcoplasmic reticulum. Moreover, MVI was detected in the sarcoplasmic reticulum fractions isolated from skeletal and cardiac muscle. The protein also localized to the postsynaptic region of the neuromuscular junction. In denervated muscle, the defined MVI distribution pattern was abolished and accompanied by significant increase in its amount in the muscle fibers. In addition, we have identified several novel potential MVI-binding partners, which seem to aid our observations that in striated muscle MVI could be involved in postsynaptic trafficking as well as in maintenance of and/or transport within the sarcoplasmic reticulum and non-sarcomeric cytoskeleton.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00418-012-1070-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Cytoskeleton; Muscle fiber; Myosin VI; Neuromuscular junction; Nucleus; Sarcoplasmic reticulum
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.
Atrial septal development; Cardiomyopathy; Myosin; Chick
Phosphorylation of the muscle-specific formin splice variant FHOD3 by CK2 regulates its stability, myofibril targeting, and myofibril integrity.
Members of the formin family are important for actin filament nucleation and elongation. We have identified a novel striated muscle–specific splice variant of the formin FHOD3 that introduces a casein kinase 2 (CK2) phosphorylation site. The specific targeting of muscle FHOD3 to the myofibrils in cardiomyocytes is abolished in phosphomutants or by the inhibition of CK2. Phosphorylation of muscle FHOD3 also prevents its interaction with p62/sequestosome 1 and its recruitment to autophagosomes. Furthermore, we show that muscle FHOD3 efficiently promotes the polymerization of actin filaments in cardiomyocytes and that the down-regulation of its expression severely affects myofibril integrity. In murine and human cardiomyopathy, we observe reduced FHOD3 expression with a concomitant isoform switch and change of subcellular targeting. Collectively, our data suggest that a muscle-specific isoform of FHOD3 is required for the maintenance of the contractile structures in heart muscle and that its function is regulated by posttranslational modification.
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.
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
Striated muscle cells display an extremely regular assembly of their actin cytoskeleton that contributes to the contractile elements, the myofibrils. How this assembly is initiated and how these structures are maintained is still unclear. We have recently shown that striated muscle expresses a specific isoform of the formin protein family member FHOD3, which is characterised by the presence of a CK2 phosphorylation site at the C-terminal end of the formin homology domain 2 (FH2). Phosphorylated muscle FHOD3 displays a different subcellular localisation, namely to the myofibrils, and also has increased stability compared to un-phosphorylated or non muscle FHOD3. In addition, we could show that muscle FHOD3 is involved in myofibril maintenance in cultured cardiomyocytes and that its presence dramatically enhances the reconstitution of cardiac actin filaments after depolymerisation. Since FHOD3 expression levels and in particular that of the muscle isoform are also decreased in different types of cardiomyopathy, we postulate a crucial role for this protein in the maintenance of a fully functional cardiac cytoarchitecture.
heart; development; actin filament; formin; sarcomere
The M-band is the prominent cytoskeletal structure that cross-links the myosin and titin filaments in the middle of the sarcomere. To investigate M-band alterations in heart disease, we analyzed the expression of its main components, proteins of the myomesin family, in mouse and human cardiomyopathy. Cardiac function was assessed by echocardiography and compared to the expression pattern of myomesins evaluated with RT-PCR, Western blot, and immunofluorescent analysis. Disease progression in transgenic mouse models for dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) was accompanied by specific M-band alterations. The dominant splice isoform in the embryonic heart, EH-myomesin, was strongly up-regulated in the failing heart and correlated with a decrease in cardiac function (R = −0.86). In addition, we have analyzed the expressions of myomesins in human myocardial biopsies (N = 40) obtained from DCM patients, DCM patients supported by a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) patients and controls. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that the EH-myomesin isoform was up-regulated 41-fold (P < 0.001) in the DCM patients compared to control patients. In DCM hearts supported by a LVAD and HCM hearts, the EH-myomesin expression was comparable to controls. Immunofluorescent analyses indicate that EH-myomesin was enhanced in a cell-specific manner, leading to a higher heterogeneity of the myocytes’ cytoskeleton through the myocardial wall. We suggest that the up-regulation of EH-myomesin denotes an adaptive remodeling of the sarcomere cytoskeleton in the dilated heart and might serve as a marker for DCM in mouse and human myocardium.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00395-010-0131-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Dilated cardiomyopathy; Heart failure; Sarcomere cytoskeleton; M-band; Myomesin
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.
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Desmocollin-2; Desmosome; Functional studies; Mutation
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy, increased ventricular stiffness and impaired diastolic filling. We investigated to what extent myocardial functional defects can be explained by alterations in the passive and active properties of human cardiac myofibrils. Skinned ventricular myocytes were prepared from patients with obstructive HCM (two patients with MYBPC3 mutations, one with a MYH7 mutation, and three with no mutation in either gene) and from four donors. Passive stiffness, viscous properties, and titin isoform expression were similar in HCM myocytes and donor myocytes. Maximal Ca2+-activated force was much lower in HCM myocytes (14 ± 1 kN/m2) than in donor myocytes (23 ± 3 kN/m2; P < 0.01), though cross-bridge kinetics (ktr) during maximal Ca2+ activation were 10% faster in HCM myocytes. Myofibrillar Ca2+ sensitivity in HCM myocytes (pCa50 = 6.40 ± 0.05) was higher than for donor myocytes (pCa50 = 6.09 ± 0.02; P < 0.001) and was associated with reduced phosphorylation of troponin-I (ser-23/24) and MyBP-C (ser-282) in HCM myocytes. These characteristics were common to all six HCM patients and may therefore represent a secondary consequence of the known and unknown underlying genetic variants. Some HCM patients did however exhibit an altered relationship between force and cross-bridge kinetics at submaximal Ca2+ concentrations, which may reflect the primary mutation. We conclude that the passive viscoelastic properties of the myocytes are unlikely to account for the increased stiffness of the HCM ventricle. However, the low maximum Ca2+-activated force and high Ca2+ sensitivity of the myofilaments are likely to contribute substantially to any systolic and diastolic dysfunction, respectively, in hearts of HCM patients.
► The passive stiffness of skinned HCM cardiac myocytes was similar to that of normal (donor) myocytes. ► Maximum Ca-activated force production was reduced by 40% in HCM vs donor myocytes. ► This loss of force could contribute to systolic dysfunction in HCM hearts. ► Myofibrillar Ca sensitivity was higher in HCM than in donor myocytes. ► The enhanced Ca sensitivity could compensate for the smaller maximum force but would tend to cause diastolic dysfunction. ► These characteristics were common to all HCM patients studied, suggesting the changes were secondary consequence of the underlying genetic variants.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; Skinned cardiac myocytes; Viscoelasticity; Ca2+ sensitivity; Cross-bridge kinetics
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.
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
Myofilament proteins are responsible for cardiac contraction. The myofilament subproteome, however, has not been comprehensively analyzed thus far. In the present study, cardiomyocytes were isolated from rodent hearts and stimulated with endothelin-1 and isoproterenol, potent inducers of myofilament protein phosphorylation. Subsequently, cardiomyocytes were “skinned,” and the myofilament subproteome was analyzed using a high mass accuracy ion trap tandem mass spectrometer (LTQ Orbitrap XL) equipped with electron transfer dissociation. As expected, a small number of myofilament proteins constituted the majority of the total protein mass with several known phosphorylation sites confirmed by electron transfer dissociation. More than 600 additional proteins were identified in the cardiac myofilament subproteome, including kinases and phosphatase subunits. The proteomic comparison of myofilaments from control and treated cardiomyocytes suggested that isoproterenol treatment altered the subcellular localization of protein phosphatase 2A regulatory subunit B56α. Immunoblot analysis of myocyte fractions confirmed that β-adrenergic stimulation by isoproterenol decreased the B56α content of the myofilament fraction in the absence of significant changes for the myosin phosphatase target subunit isoforms 1 and 2 (MYPT1 and MYPT2). Furthermore, immunolabeling and confocal microscopy revealed the spatial redistribution of these proteins with a loss of B56α from Z-disc and M-band regions but increased association of MYPT1/2 with A-band regions of the sarcomere following β-adrenergic stimulation. In summary, we present the first comprehensive proteomics data set of skinned cardiomyocytes and demonstrate the potential of proteomics to unravel dynamic changes in protein composition that may contribute to the neurohormonal regulation of myofilament contraction.
Impaired cardiac muscle growth and aberrant myocyte arrangement underlie congenital heart disease and cardiomyopathy. We show that cardiac-specific inactivation of the homeobox transcription factor Prox1 results in disruption of the expression and localisation of sarcomeric proteins, gross myofibril disarray and growth retarded hearts. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Prox1 is required for direct transcriptional regulation of structural proteins α-actinin, N-RAP and Zyxin which collectively function to maintain an actin-α-actinin interaction as the fundamental association of the sarcomere. Aspects of abnormal heart development and manifestation of a subset of muscular-based disease have previously been attributed to mutations in key structural proteins. Our study demonstrates an essential requirement for direct transcriptional regulation of sarcomere integrity, in the context of enabling fetal cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, maintenance of contractile function and progression towards inherited or acquired myopathic disease.
Prox1; heart development; myocardium; sarcomere; hypertrophy; myopathy
The cysteine and glycine rich protein 2 (CRP2) encoded by the Csrp2 gene is a LIM domain protein expressed in the vascular system, particularly in smooth muscle cells. It exhibits a bimodal subcellular distribution, accumulating at actin-based filaments in the cytosol and in the nucleus. In order to analyze the function of CRP2 in vivo, we disrupted the Csrp2 gene in mice and analysed the resulting phenotype.
A ~17.3 kbp fragment of the murine Csrp2 gene containing exon 3 through 6 was isolated. Using this construct we confirmed the recently determined chromosomal localization (Chromosome 10, best fit location between markers D10Mit203 proximal and D10Mit150 central). A gene disruption cassette was cloned into exon 4 and a mouse strain lacking functional Csrp2 was generated. Mice lacking CRP2 are viable and fertile and have no obvious deficits in reproduction and survival. However, detailed histological and electron microscopic studies reveal that CRP2-deficient mice have subtle alterations in their cardiac ultrastructure. In these mice, the cardiomyocytes display a slight increase in their thickness, indicating moderate hypertrophy at the cellular level. Although the expression of several intercalated disc-associated proteins such as β-catenin, N-RAP and connexin-43 were not affected in these mice, the distribution of respective proteins was changed within heart tissue.
We conclude that the lack of CRP2 is associated with alterations in cardiomyocyte thickness and hypertrophy.
Palladin and SPIN90 are widely expressed proteins, which participate in modulation of actin cytoskeleton by binding to a variety of scaffold and signaling molecules. Cytoskeletal reorganization can induced by activation of signaling pathways, including the PDGF receptor and Src tyrosine kinase pathways. In this study we have analyzed the interplay between palladin, SPIN90 and Src, and characterized the role of palladin and SPIN90 in PDGF and Src-induced cytoskeletal remodeling. We show that the SH3 domains of SPIN90 and Src directly bind palladin’s poly-proline sequence and the interaction controls intracellular targeting of SPIN90. In PDGF-treated cells, palladin and SPIN90 co-localize in actin rich membrane ruffles and lamellipodia. The effect of PDGF on the cytoskeleton is at least partly mediated by the Src kinase, since PP2, a selective Src kinase family inhibitor, blocked PDGF-induced changes. Furthermore, expression of active Src kinase resulted in coordinated translocation of both palladin and SPIN90 to membrane protrusions. Knock-down of endogenous SPIN90 did not inhibit Src-induced cytoskeletal rearrangement, whereas knock-down of palladin resulted in cytoskeletal disorganization and inhibition of remodeling. Further studies showed that palladin is tyrosine phosphorylated in cells expressing active Src indicating bidirectional interplay between palladin and Src. These results may have implications in understanding the invasive and metastatic phenotype of neoplastic cells induced by Src.
Palladin; SPIN90; Src; cytoskeleton
Proteins linking intermediate filaments to other cytoskeletal components have important functions in maintaining tissue integrity and cell shape.
We found a set of monoclonal antibodies raised against specific human sarcomeric myosin heavy chain (MyHC) isoforms labels cells in distinct regions of the mammalian epidermis. The antigens co-localize with intermediate filament-containing structures. A slow MyHC-related antigen is punctate on the cell surface and co-localizes with desmoplakin at desmosomal junctions of all suprabasal epidermal layers from rat fœtal day 16 onwards, in the root sheath of the hair follicle and in intercalated disks of cardiomyocytes. A fast MyHC-related antigen occurs in cytoplasmic filaments in a subset of basal cells of skin epidermis and bulb, but not neck, of hair follicles. A fast IIA MyHC-related antigen labels filaments of a single layer of cells in hair bulb. This 230 000 Mr antigen co-purifies with keratin. No obvious candidate for any of the antigens appears in the literature.
We describe a set of molecules that co-localize with intermediate filament in specific cell subsets in epithelial tissues. These antigens presumably influence intermediate filament structure or function.
gut; heart; cardiomyocyte; intercalated disk; intermediate filaments; desmosomes.
Measles virus (MV) can infect the central nervous system and, in rare cases, causes subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, characterized by a progressive degeneration of neurons. The route of MV transmission in neurons was investigated in cultured rat hippocampal slices by using MV expressing green fluorescent protein. MV infected hippocampal neurons and spread unidirectionally, in a retrograde manner, from CA1 to CA3 pyramidal cells and from there to the dentate gyrus. Spreading of infection depended on cell-to-cell contact and occurred without any detectable release of infectious particles. The role of the viral proteins in the retrograde MV transmission was determined by investigating their sorting in infected pyramidal cells. MV glycoproteins, the fusion protein (F) and hemagglutinin (H), the matrix protein (M), and the phosphoprotein (P), which is part of the viral ribonucleoprotein complex, were all sorted to the dendrites. While M, P, and H proteins remained more intracellular, the F protein localized to prominent, spine-type domains at the surface of infected cells. The detected localization of MV proteins suggests that local microfusion events may be mediated by the F protein at sites of synaptic contacts and is consistent with a mechanism of retrograde transmission of MV infection.
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.
obscurin; Rho GTPases; GEF proteins; myofibril; heart muscle
In this study, we investigated cardiomyocyte cytoarchitecture in a mouse model for dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), the muscle LIM protein (MLP) knockout mouse and substantiated several observations in a second DCM model, the tropomodulin-overexpressing transgenic (TOT) mouse. Freshly isolated cardiomyocytes from both strains are characterized by a more irregular shape compared with wild-type cells. Alterations are observed at the intercalated disks, the specialized areas of mechanical coupling between cardiomyocytes, whereas the subcellular organization of contractile proteins in the sarcomeres of MLP knockout mice appears unchanged. Distinct parts of the intercalated disks are affected differently. Components from the adherens junctions are upregulated, desmosomal proteins are unchanged, and gap junction proteins are downregulated. In addition, the expression of N-RAP, a LIM domain– containing protein located at the intercalated disks, is upregulated in MLP knockout as well as in TOT mice. Detailed analysis of intercalated disk composition during postnatal development reveals that an upregulation of N-RAP expression might serve as an early marker for the development of DCM. Altered expression levels of cytoskeletal proteins (either the lack of MLP or an increased expression of tropomodulin) apparently lead to impaired function of the myofibrillar apparatus and to physiological stress that ultimately results in DCM and is accompanied by an altered appearance and composition of the intercalated disks.
dilated cardiomyopathy; N-RAP; tropomodulin; adherens junction; gap junction
DRAL is a four and a half LIM domain protein identified because of its differential expression between normal human myoblasts and the malignant counterparts, rhabdomyosarcoma cells. In the current study, we demonstrate that transcription of the DRAL gene can be stimulated by p53, since transient expression of functional p53 in rhabdomyosarcoma cells as well as stimulation of endogenous p53 by ionizing radiation in wild-type cells enhances DRAL mRNA levels. In support of these observations, five potential p53 target sites could be identified in the promoter region of the human DRAL gene. To obtain insight into the possible functions of DRAL, ectopic expression experiments were performed. Interestingly, DRAL expression efficiently triggered apoptosis in three cell lines of different origin to the extent that no cells could be generated that stably overexpressed this protein. However, transient transfection experiments as well as immunofluorescence staining of the endogenous protein allowed for the localization of DRAL in different cellular compartments, namely cytoplasm, nucleus, focal contacts, as well as Z-discs and to a lesser extent the M-bands in cardiac myofibrils. These data suggest that downregulation of DRAL might be involved in tumor development. Furthermore, DRAL expression might be important for heart function.
LIM domain protein; transcriptional regulation; p53; apoptosis; subcellular localization
Myomesin is a 185-kDa protein located in the M-band of striated muscle where it interacts with myosin and titin, possibly connecting thick filaments with the third filament system. By using expression of epitope-tagged myomesin fragments in cultured cardiomyocytes and biochemical binding assays, we could demonstrate that the M-band targeting activity and the myosin-binding site are located in different domains of the molecule. An N-terminal immunoglobulin-like domain is sufficient for targeting to the M-band, but solid-phase overlay assays between individual N-terminal domains and the thick filament protein myosin revealed that the unique head domain contains the myosin-binding site. When expressed in cardiomyocytes, the head domains of rat and chicken myomesin showed species-specific differences in their incorporation pattern. The head domain of rat myomesin localized to a central area within the A-band, whereas the head domain of chicken myomesin was diffusely distributed in the cytoplasm. We therefore conclude that the head domain of myomesin binds to myosin but that this affinity is not sufficient for the restriction of the domain to the M-band in vivo. Instead, the neighboring immunoglobulin-like domain is essential for the precise incorporation of myomesin into the M-band, possibly because of interaction with a yet unknown protein of the sarcomere.