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Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), characterized by cardiac dilatation and contractile dysfunction, is a major cause of heart failure. Inherited DCM can result from mutations in the genes encoding cardiac troponin T, troponin C, and alpha-tropomyosin; different mutations in the same genes cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. To understand how certain mutations lead specifically to DCM, we have investigated their effect on contractile function by comparing wild-type and mutant recombinant proteins. Because initial studies on two troponin T mutations have generated conflicting findings, we analyzed all eight published DCM mutations in troponin T, troponin C, and alpha-tropomyosin in a range of in vitro assays. Thin filaments, reconstituted with a 1:1 ratio of mutant/wild-type proteins (the likely in vivo ratio), all showed reduced Ca(2+) sensitivity of activation in ATPase and motility assays, and except for one alpha-tropomyosin mutant showed lower maximum Ca(2+) activation. Incorporation of either of two troponin T mutants in skinned cardiac trabeculae also decreased Ca(2+) sensitivity of force generation. Structure/function considerations imply that the diverse thin filament DCM mutations affect different aspects of regulatory function yet change contractility in a consistent manner. The DCM mutations depress myofibrillar function, an effect fundamentally opposite to that of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-causing thin filament mutations, suggesting that decreased contractility may trigger pathways that ultimately lead to the clinical phenotype.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





28498 - 28506


Animals, Calcium, Calcium-Transporting ATPases, Cardiomyopathy, Dilated, Humans, Models, Molecular, Muscle, Skeletal, Myocardial Contraction, Myosin Subfragments, Phenotype, Protein Conformation, Rabbits, Recombinant Proteins, Tropomyosin, Troponin, Troponin C, Troponin T