Nemaline myopathy (NM) is a rare genetic muscle disorder, but one of the most common among the congenital myopathies. NM is caused by mutations in at least nine genes: Nebulin (NEB), ?-actin (ACTA1), ?-tropomyosin (TPM3), ?-tropomyosin (TPM2), troponin T (TNNT1), cofilin-2 (CFL2), Kelch repeat and BTB (POZ) domain-containing 13 (KBTBD13), and Kelch-like family members 40 and 41 (KLHL40 and KLHL41). Nebulin is a giant (600 to 900 kDa) filamentous protein constituting part of the skeletal muscle thin filament. Around 90% of the primary structure of nebulin is composed of approximately 35-residue ?-helical domains, which form super repeats that bind actin with high affinity. Each super repeat has been proposed to harbor one tropomyosin-binding site.
Mutations affecting skeletal muscle isoforms of the tropomyosin genes may cause nemaline myopathy, cap myopathy, core-rod myopathy, congenital fiber-type disproportion, distal arthrogryposes, and Escobar syndrome. We correlate the clinical picture of these diseases with novel (19) and previously reported (31) mutations of the TPM2 and TPM3 genes. Included are altogether 93 families: 53 with TPM2 mutations and 40 with TPM3 mutations. Thirty distinct pathogenic variants of TPM2 and 20 of TPM3 have been published or listed in the Leiden Open Variant Database (http://www.dmd.nl/). Most are heterozygous changes associated with autosomal-dominant disease. Patients with TPM2 mutations tended to present with milder symptoms than those with TPM3 mutations, DA being present only in the TPM2 group. Previous studies have shown that five of the mutations in TPM2 and one in TPM3 cause increased Ca(2+) sensitivity resulting in a hypercontractile molecular phenotype. Patients with hypercontractile phenotype more often had contractures of the limb joints (18/19) and jaw (6/19) than those with nonhypercontractile ones (2/22 and 1/22), whereas patients with the non-hypercontractile molecular phenotype more often (19/22) had axial contractures than the hypercontractile group (7/19). Our in silico predictions show that most mutations affect tropomyosin-actin association or tropomyosin head-to-tail binding.
The congenital myopathies include a wide spectrum of clinically, histologically and genetically variable neuromuscular disorders many of which are caused by mutations in genes for sarcomeric proteins. Some congenital myopathy patients have a hypercontractile phenotype. Recent functional studies demonstrated that ACTA1 K326N and TPM2 ?K7 mutations were associated with hypercontractility that could be explained by increased myofibrillar Ca(2+) sensitivity. A recent structure of the complex of actin and tropomyosin in the relaxed state showed that both these mutations are located in the actin-tropomyosin interface. Tropomyosin is an elongated molecule with a 7-fold repeated motif of around 40 amino acids corresponding to the 7 actin monomers it interacts with. Actin binds to tropomyosin electrostatically at two points, through Asp25 and through a cluster of amino acids that includes Lys326, mutated in the gain-of-function mutation. Asp25 interacts with tropomyosin K6, next to K7 that was mutated in the other gain-of-function mutation. We identified four tropomyosin motifs interacting with Asp25 (K6-K7, K48-K49, R90-R91 and R167-K168) and three E-E/D-K/R motifs interacting with Lys326 (E139, E181 and E218), and we predicted that the known skeletal myopathy mutations ?K7, ?K49, R91G, ?E139, K168E and E181K would cause a gain of function. Tests by an in vitro motility assay confirmed that these mutations increased Ca(2+) sensitivity, while mutations not in these motifs (R167H, R244G) decreased Ca(2+) sensitivity. The work reported here explains the molecular mechanism for 6 out of 49 known disease-causing mutations in the TPM2 and TPM3 genes, derived from structural data of the actin-tropomyosin interface.
Multiple congenital myopathies, including nemaline myopathy, can arise due to mutations in the ACTA1 gene encoding skeletal muscle ?-actin. The main characteristics of ACTA1 null mutations (absence of skeletal muscle ?-actin) are generalized skeletal muscle weakness and premature death. A mouse model (ACTC(Co)/KO) mimicking these conditions has successfully been rescued by transgenic over-expression of cardiac ?-actin in skeletal muscles using the ACTC gene. Nevertheless, myofibres from ACTC(Co)/KO animals generate less force than normal myofibres (-20 to 25%). To understand the underlying mechanisms, here we have undertaken a detailed functional study of myofibres from ACTC(Co)/KO rodents. Mechanical and X-ray diffraction pattern analyses of single membrane-permeabilized myofibres showed, upon maximal Ca(2+) activation and under rigor conditions, lower stiffness and disrupted actin-layer line reflections in ACTC(Co)/KO when compared with age-matched wild-types. These results demonstrate that in ACTC(Co)/KO myofibres, the presence of cardiac ?-actin instead of skeletal muscle ?-actin alters actin conformational changes upon activation. This later finely modulates the strain of individual actomyosin interactions and overall lowers myofibre force production. Taken together, the present findings provide novel primordial information about actin isoforms, their functional differences and have to be considered when designing gene therapies for ACTA1-based congenital myopathies.
More than 200 mutations in the skeletal muscle ?-actin gene (ACTA1) cause either dominant or recessive skeletal muscle disease. Currently, there are no specific therapies. Cardiac ?-actin is 99% identical to skeletal muscle ?-actin and the predominant actin isoform in fetal muscle. We previously showed cardiac ?-actin can substitute for skeletal muscle ?-actin, preventing the early postnatal death of Acta1 knock-out mice, which model recessive ACTA1 disease. Dominant ACTA1 disease is caused by the presence of poison mutant actin protein. Experimental and anecdotal evidence nevertheless indicates that the severity of dominant ACTA1 disease is modulated by the relative amount of mutant skeletal muscle ?-actin protein present. Thus, we investigated whether transgenic over-expression of cardiac ?-actin in postnatal skeletal muscle could ameliorate the phenotype of mouse models of severe dominant ACTA1 disease. In one model, lethality of ACTA1(D286G). Acta1(+/-) mice was reduced from ?59% before 30 days of age to ?12%. In the other model, Acta1(H40Y), in which ?80% of male mice die by 5 months of age, the cardiac ?-actin transgene did not significantly improve survival. Hence cardiac ?-actin over-expression is likely to be therapeutic for at least some dominant ACTA1 mutations. The reason cardiac ?-actin was not effective in the Acta1(H40Y) mice is uncertain. We showed that the Acta1(H40Y) mice had endogenously elevated levels of cardiac ?-actin in skeletal muscles, a finding not reported in dominant ACTA1 patients.
We determined the isoforms of tropomyosin expressed and the level of tropomyosin phosphorylation in donor, end-stage failing and hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy samples of human heart muscle. Western blots and isoform-specific antibodies showed that ?-tropomyosin was the only significant isoform expressed and that tropomyosin was 25-30 % phosphorylated at serine 283. Mass spectrometry confirmed directly that ?-tropomyosin made up over 95 % of tropomyosin but also indicated the presence of up to 4 % ?-tropomyosin and much smaller amounts of ?-, ?- and smooth ?-tropomyosin and about 26 % phosphorylation. Neither the isoform distribution nor the level of phosphorylation changed significantly in the pathological heart muscle samples.
The pure form of familial dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is mainly caused by mutations in genes encoding sarcomeric proteins. Previous measurements using recombinant proteins suggested that DCM mutations in thin filament proteins decreased myofibrillar Ca(2+) sensitivity, but exceptions were reported. We re-investigated the molecular mechanism of familial DCM using native proteins.
Mutations in the TPM2 gene, which encodes ?-tropomyosin, are an established cause of several congenital skeletal myopathies and distal arthrogryposis. We have identified a TPM2 mutation, p.K7del, in five unrelated families with nemaline myopathy and a consistent distinctive clinical phenotype. Patients develop large joint contractures during childhood, followed by slowly progressive skeletal muscle weakness during adulthood. The TPM2 p.K7del mutation results in the loss of a highly conserved lysine residue near the N-terminus of ?-tropomyosin, which is predicted to disrupt head-to-tail polymerization of tropomyosin. Recombinant K7del-?-tropomyosin incorporates poorly into sarcomeres in C2C12 myotubes and has a reduced affinity for actin. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis of patient muscle and primary patient cultured myotubes showed that mutant protein is expressed but incorporates poorly into sarcomeres and likely accumulates in nemaline rods. In vitro studies using recombinant K7del-?-tropomyosin and force measurements from single dissected patient myofibres showed increased myofilament calcium sensitivity. Together these data indicate that p.K7del is a common recurrent TPM2 mutation associated with mild nemaline myopathy. The p.K7del mutation likely disrupts head-to-tail polymerization of tropomyosin, which impairs incorporation into sarcomeres and also affects the equilibrium of the troponin/tropomyosin-dependent calcium switch of muscle. Joint contractures may stem from chronic muscle hypercontraction due to increased myofibrillar calcium sensitivity while declining strength in adulthood likely arises from other mechanisms, such as myofibre decompensation and fatty infiltration. These results suggest that patients may benefit from therapies that reduce skeletal muscle calcium sensitivity, and we highlight late muscle decompensation as an important cause of morbidity.
Nemaline myopathy (NM), the most common non-dystrophic congenital disease of skeletal muscle, can be caused by mutations in the skeletal muscle ?-actin gene (ACTA1) (~25% of all NM cases and up to 50% of severe forms of NM). Muscle function of the recently generated transgenic mouse model carrying the human Asp286Gly mutation in the ACTA1 gene (Tg(ACTA1)(Asp286Gly)) has been mainly investigated in vitro. Therefore, we aimed at providing a comprehensive picture of the in vivo hindlimb muscle function of Tg(ACTA1)(Asp286Gly) mice by combining strictly noninvasive investigations. Skeletal muscle anatomy (hindlimb muscles, intramuscular fat volumes) and microstructure were studied using multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (Dixon, T2, Diffusion Tensor Imaging [DTI]). Energy metabolism was studied using 31-phosphorus Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy ((31)P-MRS). Skeletal muscle contractile performance was investigated while applying a force-frequency protocol (1-150 Hz) and a fatigue protocol (6 min-1.7 Hz). Tg(ACTA1)(Asp286Gly) mice showed a mild muscle weakness as illustrated by the reduction of both absolute (30%) and specific (15%) maximal force production. Dixon MRI did not show discernable fatty infiltration in Tg(ACTA1)(Asp286Gly) mice indicating that this mouse model does not reproduce human MRI findings. Increased T2 values were observed in Tg(ACTA1)(Asp286Gly) mice and might reflect the occurrence of muscle degeneration/regeneration process. Interestingly, T2 values were linearly related to muscle weakness. DTI experiments indicated lower ?2 and ?3 values in Tg(ACTA1)(Asp286Gly) mice, which might be associated to muscle atrophy and/or the presence of histological anomalies. Finally (31)P-MRS investigations illustrated an increased anaerobic energy cost of contraction in Tg(ACTA1)(Asp286Gly) mice, which might be ascribed to contractile and non-contractile processes. Overall, we provide a unique set of information about the anatomic, metabolic and functional consequences of the Asp286Gly mutation that might be considered as relevant biomarkers for monitoring the severity and/or the progression of NM and for assessing the efficacy of potential therapeutic interventions.
Nemaline myopathy constitutes a continuous spectrum of primary skeletal muscle disorders named after the Greek word for thread, nema. The diagnosis is based on muscle weakness, combined with visualization of nemaline bodies on muscle biopsy. The patients muscle weakness is usually generalized, but there may be a selective pattern of more pronounced weakness, and, most importantly, respiratory muscles may be especially weak. Histologically, additional features may coexist with the nemaline bodies. There are 7 known causative genes. The function of the most recently identified gene is unknown, but the other 6 encoded proteins are associated with the muscle thin filament. The 2 most common causes of nemaline myopathy are recessive mutations in nebulin and de novo dominant mutations in skeletal muscle ?-actin. At least 1 further gene remains to be identified. Patient care is based on managing the clinical symptoms. Animal models are helping to gain insight into pathogenesis, and a variety of therapeutic approaches are being investigated.
We generated a transgenic mouse model expressing the apical hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-causing mutation ACTC E99K at 50% of total heart actin and compared it with actin from patients carrying the same mutation. The actin mutation caused a higher Ca(2+) sensitivity in reconstituted thin filaments measured by in vitro motility assay (2.3-fold for mice and 1.3-fold for humans) and in skinned papillary muscle. The mutation also abolished the change in Ca(2+) sensitivity normally linked to troponin I phosphorylation. MyBP-C and troponin I phosphorylation levels were the same as controls in transgenic mice and human carrier heart samples. ACTC E99K mice exhibited a high death rate between 28 and 45 days (48% females and 22% males). At 21 weeks, the hearts of the male survivors had enlarged atria, increased interstitial fibrosis, and sarcomere disarray. MRI showed hypertrophy, predominantly at the apex of the heart. End-diastolic volume and end-diastolic pressure were increased, and relaxation rates were reduced compared with nontransgenic littermates. End-systolic pressures and volumes were unaltered. ECG abnormalities were present, and the contractile response to ?-adrenergic stimulation was much reduced. Older mice (29-week-old females and 38-week-old males) developed dilated cardiomyopathy with increased end-systolic volume and continuing increased end-diastolic pressure and slower contraction and relaxation rates. ECG showed atrial flutter and frequent atrial ectopic beats at rest in some ACTC E99K mice. We propose that the ACTC E99K mutation causes higher myofibrillar Ca(2+) sensitivity that is responsible for the sudden cardiac death, apical hypertrophy, and subsequent development of heart failure in humans and mice.
Mutations in the skeletal muscle ?-actin gene (ACTA1) cause congenital myopathies including nemaline myopathy, actin aggregate myopathy and rod-core disease. The majority of patients with ACTA1 mutations have severe hypotonia and do not survive beyond the age of one. A transgenic mouse model was generated expressing an autosomal dominant mutant (D286G) of ACTA1 (identified in a severe nemaline myopathy patient) fused with EGFP. Nemaline bodies were observed in multiple skeletal muscles, with serial sections showing these correlated to aggregates of the mutant skeletal muscle ?-actin-EGFP. Isolated extensor digitorum longus and soleus muscles were significantly weaker than wild-type (WT) muscle at 4 weeks of age, coinciding with the peak in structural lesions. These 4 week-old mice were ~30% less active on voluntary running wheels than WT mice. The ?-actin-EGFP protein clearly demonstrated that the transgene was expressed equally in all myosin heavy chain (MHC) fibre types during the early postnatal period, but subsequently became largely confined to MHCIIB fibres. Ringbinden fibres, internal nuclei and myofibrillar myopathy pathologies, not typical features in nemaline myopathy or patients with ACTA1 mutations, were frequently observed. Ringbinden were found in fast fibre predominant muscles of adult mice and were exclusively MHCIIB-positive fibres. Thus, this mouse model presents a reliable model for the investigation of the pathobiology of nemaline body formation and muscle weakness and for evaluation of potential therapeutic interventions. The occurrence of core-like regions, internal nuclei and ringbinden will allow analysis of the mechanisms underlying these lesions. The occurrence of ringbinden and features of myofibrillar myopathy in this mouse model of ACTA1 disease suggests that patients with these pathologies and no genetic explanation should be screened for ACTA1 mutations.
Linkage analysis of the dominant distal myopathy we previously identified in a large Australian family demonstrated one significant linkage region located on chromosome 7 and encompassing 18.6 Mbp and 151 genes. The strongest candidate gene was FLNC because filamin C, the encoded protein, is muscle-specific and associated with myofibrillar myopathy. Sequencing of FLNC cDNA identified a c.752T>C (p.Met251Thr) mutation in the N-terminal actin-binding domain (ABD); this mutation segregated with the disease and was absent in 200 controls. We identified an Italian family with the same phenotype and found a c.577G>A (p.Ala193Thr) filamin C ABD mutation that segregated with the disease. Filamin C ABD mutations have not been described, although filamin A and filamin B ABD mutations cause multiple musculoskeletal disorders. The distal myopathy phenotype and muscle pathology in the two families differ from myofibrillar myopathies caused by filamin C rod and dimerization domain mutations because of the distinct involvement of hand muscles and lack of pathological protein aggregation. Thus, like the position of FLNA and B mutations, the position of the FLNC mutation determines disease phenotype. The two filamin C ABD mutations increase actin-binding affinity in a manner similar to filamin A and filamin B ABD mutations. Cell-culture expression of the c.752T>C (p.Met251)Thr mutant filamin C ABD demonstrated reduced nuclear localization as did mutant filamin A and filamin B ABDs. Expression of both filamin C ABD mutants as full-length proteins induced increased aggregation of filamin. We conclude filamin C ABD mutations cause a recognizable distal myopathy, most likely through increased actin affinity, similar to the pathological mechanism of filamin A and filamin B ABD mutations.
Mutations in the skeletal muscle ?-actin gene (ACTA1) cause a range of pathologically defined congenital myopathies. Most patients have dominant mutations and experience severe skeletal muscle weakness, dying within one year of birth. To determine mutant ACTA1 pathobiology, transgenic mice expressing ACTA1(D286G) were created. These Tg(ACTA1)(D286G) mice were less active than wild-type individuals. Their skeletal muscles were significantly weaker by in vitro analyses and showed various pathological lesions reminiscent of human patients, however they had a normal lifespan. Mass spectrometry revealed skeletal muscles from Tg(ACTA1)(D286G) mice contained ?25% ACTA1(D286G) protein. Tg(ACTA1)(D286G) mice were crossed with hemizygous Acta1(+/-) knock-out mice to generate Tg(ACTA1)(D286G)(+/+).Acta1(+/-) offspring that were homozygous for the transgene and hemizygous for the endogenous skeletal muscle ?-actin gene. Akin to most human patients, skeletal muscles from these offspring contained approximately equal proportions of ACTA1(D286G) and wild-type actin. Strikingly, the majority of these mice presented with severe immobility between postnatal Days 8 and 17, requiring euthanasia. Their skeletal muscles contained extensive structural abnormalities as identified in severely affected human patients, including nemaline bodies, actin accumulations and widespread sarcomeric disarray. Therefore we have created valuable mouse models, one of mild dominant ACTA1 disease [Tg(ACTA1)(D286G)], and the other of severe disease, with a dramatically shortened lifespan [Tg(ACTA1)(D286G)(+/+).Acta1(+/-)]. The correlation between mutant ACTA1 protein load and disease severity parallels effects in ACTA1 families and suggests altering this ratio in patient muscle may be a therapy for patients with dominant ACTA1 disease. Furthermore, ringbinden fibres were observed in these mouse models. The presence of such features suggests that perhaps patients with ringbinden of unknown genetic origin should be considered for ACTA1 mutation screening. This is the first experimental, as opposed to observational, evidence that mutant protein load determines the severity of ACTA1 disease.
We examined three patients with a severe infantile type of congenital myopathy due to dominant, missense ACTA1 mutations. In addition to muscle weakness, all three patients showed developmental delay in word comprehension during early childhood. All also showed frontal lobe hypoplasia and lateral ventricular dilatation. One patient in addition exhibited features of multiple congenital malformations including skeletal dysplasia, hepatomegaly and urinary tract stenosis. These findings may suggest a link between extramuscular expression of ?-skeletal muscle actin and clinical symptoms in non-skeletal muscle tissues of patients with ACTA1 mutations, and probably a functional role of ?-skeletal muscle actin during fetal development.
We identified a member of the BTB/Kelch protein family that is mutated in nemaline myopathy type 6 (NEM6), an autosomal-dominant neuromuscular disorder characterized by the presence of nemaline rods and core lesions in the skeletal myofibers. Analysis of affected families allowed narrowing of the candidate region on chromosome 15q22.31, and mutation screening led to the identification of a previously uncharacterized gene, KBTBD13, coding for a hypothetical protein and containing missense mutations that perfectly cosegregate with nemaline myopathy in the studied families. KBTBD13 contains a BTB/POZ domain and five Kelch repeats and is expressed primarily in skeletal and cardiac muscle. The identified disease-associated mutations, C.742C>A (p.Arg248Ser), c.1170G>C (p.Lys390Asn), and c.1222C>T (p.Arg408Cys), located in conserved domains of Kelch repeats, are predicted to disrupt the molecules beta-propeller blades. Previously identified BTB/POZ/Kelch-domain-containing proteins have been implicated in a broad variety of biological processes, including cytoskeleton modulation, regulation of gene transcription, ubiquitination, and myofibril assembly. The functional role of KBTBD13 in skeletal muscle and the pathogenesis of NEM6 are subjects for further studies.
We describe a severe congenital myopathy patient of Xhosa native African origin with a novel de novo p.Gly152Ala skeletal muscle ?-actin gene (ACTA1) mutation, who died at 6 months of age. The muscle pathology demonstrated abundant cytoplasmic and intranuclear rods, core-like areas and the unusual feature of larger type I than type II fibres. Our results further expand the phenotypes associated with ACTA1 mutations and provide support for the hypothesis that the structural abnormalities seen are a pathological continuum dependent on the precise mutation and biopsy location. Our results also demonstrate the likely world-wide distribution of de novo mutations in this gene.
We have investigated a transgenic mouse model of inherited dilated cardiomyopathy that stably expresses the ACTC E361G mutation at around 50% of total actin in the heart. F-actin isolated from ACTC E361G mouse hearts was incorporated into thin filaments with native human tropomyosin and troponin and compared with NTG mouse actin by in vitro motility assay. There was no significant difference in sliding speed, fraction of filaments motile or Ca(2+)-sensitivity (ratio EC(50) E361G/NTG=0.95+/-0.08). The Ca(2+)-sensitivity of force in skinned trabeculae from ACTC E361G mice was slightly higher than NTG (EC(50) E361G/NTG=0.78+/-0.04). The molecular phenotype was revealed when troponin was dephosphorylated; Ca(2+)-sensitivity of E361G-containing thin filaments was now lower than NTG (EC(50) E361G(dPTn)/NTG(dPTn)=2.15+/-0.09). We demonstrated that this was due to uncoupling of Ca(2+)-sensitivity from troponin I phosphorylation by comparing Ca(2+)-sensitivity of phosphorylated and dephosphorylated thin filaments. For NTG actin-containing thin filaments EC(50) native/dPTn=3.0+/-0.3 but for E361G-containing thin filaments EC(50) native/dPTn=1.04+/-0.07.We studied contractility in isolated myocytes and found no significant differences under basal conditions. We measured cardiac performance by cine-MRI, echocardiography and with a conductance catheter over a period of 4 to 18 months and found minimal systematic differences between NTG and ACTC E361G mice under basal conditions. However, the increase in septal thickening, ejection fraction, heart rate and cardiac output following dobutamine treatment was significantly less in ACTC E361G mice compared with NTG. We propose that the ACTC E361G mutation uncouples myofilament Ca(2+)-sensitivity from Troponin I phosphorylation and blunts the response to adrenergic stimulation, leading to a reduced cardiac reserve with consequent contractile dysfunction under stress, leading to dilated cardiomyopathy.
We have developed a quantitative antibody-based assay to measure the content of skeletal muscle alpha-actin relative to cardiac alpha-actin. We found 21 +/- 2% skeletal muscle alpha-actin content in normal heart muscle of adult man and mouse. In end stage failing heart 53 +/- 5% of striated actin was skeletal muscle alpha-actin and in samples of inter-ventricular septum from patients with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM) skeletal muscle alpha-actin was 72 +/- 2% of sarcomeric actin. Thin filaments containing actin isolated from normal and HOCM heart muscle were functionally indistinguishable when studied by quantitative in vitro motility assay. We also found elevated skeletal muscle alpha-actin (60 +/- 7%) in a mouse model of dilated cardiomyopathy.
The ACTA1 gene encodes skeletal muscle alpha-actin, which is the predominant actin isoform in the sarcomeric thin filaments of adult skeletal muscle, and essential, along with myosin, for muscle contraction. ACTA1 disease-causing mutations were first described in 1999, when a total of 15 mutations were known. In this article we describe 177 different disease-causing ACTA1 mutations, including 85 that have not been described before. ACTA1 mutations result in five overlapping congenital myopathies: nemaline myopathy; intranuclear rod myopathy; actin filament aggregate myopathy; congenital fiber type disproportion; and myopathy with core-like areas. Mixtures of these histopathological phenotypes may be seen in a single biopsy from one patient. Irrespective of the histopathology, the disease is frequently clinically severe, with many patients dying within the first year of life. Most mutations are dominant and most patients have de novo mutations not present in the peripheral blood DNA of either parent. Only 10% of mutations are recessive and they are genetic or functional null mutations. To aid molecular diagnosis and establishing genotype-phenotype correlations, we have developed a locus-specific database for ACTA1 variations (http://waimr.uwa.edu.au).
Skeletal muscle alpha-actin (ACTA1) is the major actin in postnatal skeletal muscle. Mutations of ACTA1 cause mostly fatal congenital myopathies. Cardiac alpha-actin (ACTC) is the major striated actin in adult heart and fetal skeletal muscle. It is unknown why ACTC and ACTA1 expression switch during development. We investigated whether ACTC can replace ACTA1 in postnatal skeletal muscle. Two ACTC transgenic mouse lines were crossed with Acta1 knockout mice (which all die by 9 d after birth). Offspring resulting from the cross with the high expressing line survive to old age, and their skeletal muscles show no gross pathological features. The mice are not impaired on grip strength, rotarod, or locomotor activity. These findings indicate that ACTC is sufficiently similar to ACTA1 to produce adequate function in postnatal skeletal muscle. This raises the prospect that ACTC reactivation might provide a therapy for ACTA1 diseases. In addition, the mouse model will allow analysis of the precise functional differences between ACTA1 and ACTC.
Actin filaments were formed by elongation of pre-formed nuclei (short crosslinked actin-HMM complexes) that were attached to a microscope cover glass. By using TIRF illumination we could see actin filaments at high contrast despite the presence of 150 nM TRITC-phalloidin in the solution. Actin filaments showed rapid bending and translational movements due to Brownian motion but the presence of the methylcellulose polymer network constrained lateral movement away from the surface. Both the length and the number of filaments increased with time. Some filaments did not change length at all and some filaments joined up end-to-end (annealing). We did not see any decrease in filament length or filament breakage. For quantitative analysis of polymerisation time course we measured the contour length of all the filaments in a frame at a series of time points and also tracked the length of individual filaments over time. Elongation rate was the same measured by both methods (0.23 microm/min at 0.1 microM actin) and was up to 10 times faster than previously published measurements. The annealed filament population reached 30% of the total after 40 min. Polymerisation rate increased linearly with actin concentration. K(on) was 2.07 microm min(-1) microM(-1) (equivalent to 34.5 monomers s(-1) microM(-1)) and critical concentration was less than 20 nM. This technique was used to study polymerisation of a mutant actin (D286G) from a transgenic mouse model. D286G actin elongated at a 40% lower rate than non-transgenic actin.
Many mutations in the skeletal muscle ?-actin gene (ACTA1) lead to muscle weakness and nemaline myopathy. Despite increasing clinical and scientific interest, the molecular and cellular pathogenesis of weakness remains unclear. Therefore, in the present study, we aimed at unraveling these mechanisms using muscles from a transgenic mouse model of nemaline myopathy expressing the ACTA1 Asp286Gly mutation. We recorded and analyzed the mechanics of membrane-permeabilized single muscle fibers. We also performed molecular energy state computations in the presence or absence of Asp286Gly. Results demonstrated that during contraction, the Asp286Gly acts as a "poison-protein" and according to the computational analysis it modifies the actin-actin interface. This phenomenon is likely to prevent proper myosin cross-bridge binding, limiting the fraction of actomyosin interactions in the strong binding state. At the cell level, this decreases the force-generating capacity, and, overall, induces muscle weakness. To counterbalance such negative events, future potential therapeutic strategies may focus on the inappropriate actin-actin interface or myosin binding.
Mutations in the skeletal muscle ?-actin gene (ACTA1) cause a range of congenital myopathies characterised by muscle weakness and specific skeletal muscle structural lesions. Actin accumulations, nemaline and intranuclear bodies, fibre-type disproportion, cores, caps, dystrophic features and zebra bodies have all been seen in biopsies from patients with ACTA1 disease, with patients frequently presenting with multiple pathologies. Therefore increasingly it is considered that these entities may represent a continuum of structural abnormalities arising due to ACTA1 mutations. Recently an ACTA1 mutation has also been associated with a hypertonic clinical presentation with nemaline bodies. Whilst multiple genes are known to cause many of the pathologies associated with ACTA1 mutations, to date actin aggregates, intranuclear rods and zebra bodies have solely been attributed to ACTA1 mutations. Approximately 200 different ACTA1 mutations have been identified, with 90 % resulting in dominant disease and 10 % resulting in recessive disease. Despite extensive research into normal actin function and the functional consequences of ACTA1 mutations in cell culture, animal models and patient tissue, the mechanisms underlying muscle weakness and the formation of structural lesions remains largely unknown. Whilst precise mechanisms are being grappled with, headway is being made in terms of developing therapeutics for ACTA1 disease, with gene therapy (specifically reducing the proportion of mutant skeletal muscle ?-actin protein) and pharmacological agents showing promising results in animal models and patient muscle. The use of small molecules to sensitise the contractile apparatus to Ca(2+) is a promising therapeutic for patients with various neuromuscular disorders, including ACTA1 disease.
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