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1.  Knockdown of embryonic myosin heavy chain reveals an essential role in the morphology and function of the developing heart 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2011;138(18):3955-3966.
The expression and function of embryonic myosin heavy chain (eMYH) has not been investigated within the early developing heart. This is despite the knowledge that other structural proteins, such as alpha and beta myosin heavy chains and cardiac alpha actin, play crucial roles in atrial septal development and cardiac function. Most cases of atrial septal defects and cardiomyopathy are not associated with a known causative gene, suggesting that further analysis into candidate genes is required. Expression studies localised eMYH in the developing chick heart. eMYH knockdown was achieved using morpholinos in a temporal manner and functional studies were carried out using electrical and calcium signalling methodologies. Knockdown in the early embryo led to abnormal atrial septal development and heart enlargement. Intriguingly, action potentials of the eMYH knockdown hearts were abnormal in comparison with the alpha and beta myosin heavy chain knockdowns and controls. Although myofibrillogenesis appeared normal, in knockdown hearts the tissue integrity was affected owing to apparent focal points of myocyte loss and an increase in cell death. An expression profile of human skeletal myosin heavy chain genes suggests that human myosin heavy chain 3 is the functional homologue of the chick eMYH gene. These data provide compelling evidence that eMYH plays a crucial role in important processes in the early developing heart and, hence, is a candidate causative gene for atrial septal defects and cardiomyopathy.
doi:10.1242/dev.059063
PMCID: PMC3160091  PMID: 21862559
Atrial septal development; Cardiomyopathy; Myosin; Chick
2.  A novel desmocollin-2 mutation reveals insights into the molecular link between desmosomes and gap junctions 
Heart Rhythm  2011;8(5):711-718.
Background
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.
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1016/j.hrthm.2011.01.010
PMCID: PMC3085091  PMID: 21220045
Cardiomyopathy; Conduction; Connexin43; Desmocollin-2; Desmoglein-2; Desmosome; Functional studies; Gap junction; Mutation; Plakoglobin; ARVC, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Cx43, connexin43; DAPI, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole; DSC2, desmocollin-2; DSG2, desmoglein-2; DSP, desmoplakin; GFP, green fluorescent protein; GST, glutathione-S-transferase; ICS, intracellular cadherin segment; PG, plakoglobin; PKP2, plakophilin-2; RV, right ventricle; YFP, yellow fluorescent protein
3.  Formin-g muscle cytoarchitecture 
Bioarchitecture  2011;1(2):66-68.
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.
doi:10.4161/bioa.1.2.15467
PMCID: PMC3158626  PMID: 21866265
heart; development; actin filament; formin; sarcomere

Results 1-3 (3)