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FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

A missense mutation in desmin tail domain linked to human dilated cardiomyopathy promotes cleavage of the head domain and abolishes its Z-disc localization.


PMID 18539904

Abstract

A missense mutation (Ile 451 to Met) at the tail domain of the muscle-specific intermediate filament protein desmin has been suggested to be a genetic cause of dilated cardiomyopathy. The Ile451Met mutation is located inside a conserved motif in the desmin tail domain, believed to have a potential role in the lateral packing of type III intermediate filaments. Nevertheless, the role of the type III intermediate filament tail domain remains elusive. To further study the role of this domain in the function of cardiomyocytes and in the development of cardiomyopathy, we generated transgenic mice expressing the mutant desmin(I451M) in the cardiac tissue. Analysis of hearts from transgenic animals revealed that mutant desmin loses its Z-disc localization but it can still associate with the intercalated discs, which, however, have an altered architecture, resembling other examples of dilated cardiomyopathy. This is the first report demonstrating a critical role of the desmin head and tail domains in the formation of the IF scaffold around Z discs. It is further suggested that in cardiomyocytes, an interplay between desmin tail and head domains is taking place, which potentially protects the amino terminus of desmin from specific proteases. The fact that the association with intercalated discs seems unchanged suggests that this association must take place through the desmin tail, in contrast to the head domain that is most possibly involved in the Z-disc binding.