The Interactome of LIM Domain Proteins in the Heart: Its Function in Development & Disease

By: 1*Li, A., 2Ponten, F., 2Odeberg, J., 1dos Remedios, C. G., Poster - Bosch Institute
1Muscle Research Unit, Department of Anatomy, F13 Bosch Institute, The University of Sydney, Sydney 2006, Australia (*Corresponding Author)
2Department of Immunology, Genetics, and Pathology, Rudbeck Laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

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LIM (Lin-1, Isl1, Mec3) domain proteins all contain least one double zinc finger motif (Fig. 1). LIM family proteins contain between one and five LIM domains plus other that have specific functions such as actin-binding, kinases, and nuclear translocation motifs. We are the first to examine 33 LIM proteins (including three that bind to but do not themselves contain LIM domains) that are implicated in either the development of the heart, heart disorders and failure or both.

We then assembled a cellular "snapshot" of the LIM proteins known to be expressed in the heart that helps explain how mutations in these proteins may play a role in the development of heart failure. Furthermore, we name the complexity of LIM domain protein interactions as a "LIM interactome."

Figure 1. Topology of zinc-finger motifs. The highly conserved residues coordinate with zinc ions to form two tandem zinc fingers that constitute the LIM domain. Zinc-binding residues (yellow),zinc-coordinating centres (purple), a hydrophobic spacer (red), and invariant spacer residues (green).

Topology of Zinc-finger Motifs


We combine information of published data on cardiac LIM domain proteins from PubMed, Medline and Quertle. Uniprot (ExPASy) was used to access specific information regarding each LIM protein. These data were further verified in human cardiac tissue using the Human Protein Atlas (HPA) website ( HPA uniquely provided multiple images of anti-LIM domain protein immunohistochemistry of non-failing human heart left ventricles (LVs).


Figure 2. LIM domains of the heart and blood vessels arranged according to their functional involvement in development and/or heart disorders (and failure). The ovals are shaded according to the number of LIMs, consistent with Fig. 4.

LIM domains of the heart and blood vessels



Figure 3. A selection of LIM domain proteins illustrating the diversity of LIM and non-LIM domains and their domain locations. The LIM domains, represented by white ovals, are predominately localized at the amino terminus (left), however, some can be found at the carboxyl terminus (right). Similarly, other motifs are dispersed throughout the protein sequence. These additional non-LIM motifs (depicted by the shapes and colours indicated in the bottom row) also serve a number of functions. The black line is approximately equivalent to the size of each LIM domain protein.

LIM Domain Proteins



We have identified 33 LIM proteins involved in multiple physiological functions (Fig. 4) in cardiomyocytes and in time they will probably be recognised as contributors to heart development and heart failure (Fig. 2). This family of LIM domain proteins is unique due to their diverse sequence structure (Fig 3). These data lead us to several conclusions about the roles of LIM domain proteins. They:

  1. bind to and regulate the assembly of cytoskeletal actin filaments;
  2. directly interact with a wide range of myofibrillar proteins;
  3. are components of cardiomyocyte membrane (ICDs, focal adhesions/costameres) and interact with multiple proteins associated with these membranes;
  4. are transcription factors capable of actively shuttling between the cytoplasm and the nucleus;
  5. play a role in communicating extracellular signals to the appropriate genes;
  6. are linked to kinases and other metabolic enzymes that modify a wide range of protein activities;
  7. are required for effective embryological development, myogenesis, as well as repair of the adult mammalian heart; and
  8. are involved in myocardial vasculature (atherosclerosis, angiogenesis)

Figure 4. A representation of a cardiomyocyte showing a single nucleus, actin cytoskeleton, myofibrils (left and right) with the cell membrane (sarcolemma) at the top of the figure. The sarcolemma has specialized regions (focal adhesion or costameres) and, the top right illustrates the intercalated disc that joins adjacent cardiomyocytes. At the top left a capillary or small coronary artery is illustrated.

Cardiomyocyte showing a single nucleus

The oval labels (colored by their number of LIM domains) represent named LIM domain proteins and the arrows indicate their connections to other LIM proteins and transcription factors (white ovals), and other cellular proteins and membrane features. Grey arrows show connections to non-LIM proteins. Arrowheads indicate the direction of binding and lines with balls indicate inhibition. Proteins that dimerize are shown by the looped arrows.


  1. Cardiac LIM interactome (all cardiomyocyte protein–protein interactions involving LIM domain proteins) enables the heart to accommodate and respond to a wide range of physical and chemical inputs while it continues to maintain its function as a pressure pump.
  2. When the cardiac LIM interactome is no longer sufficient to maintain the ability of the heart to respond to physical and metabolic strains, the entire interactome is likely to collapse with catastrophic effect.

For more information, refer to our review:
Li, A., Ponten, F. & dos Remedios, C. G. 2012. The interactome of LIM domain proteins: The contributions of LIM domain proteins to heart failure and heart development. Proteomics, 12, 203-225.

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