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Biochemistry. 2006 Sep 26;45(38):11681-94.

Selective deletion of the NH2-terminal variable region of cardiac troponin T in ischemia reperfusion by myofibril-associated mu-calpain cleavage.

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  • 1Section of Molecular Cardiology, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Evanston, Illinois 60201, USA.


The structure of the NH2-terminal region of troponin T (TnT) is hypervariable among the muscle type-specific isoforms and is also regulated by alternative RNA splicing. This region does not contain binding sites for other thin filament proteins, but alteration of its structure affects the Ca2+ regulation of muscle contraction. Here we report a truncated cardiac TnT produced during myocardial ischemia reperfusion. Amino acid sequencing and protein fragment reconstruction determined that it is generated by a posttranslational modification selectively removing the NH2-terminal variable region and preserving the conserved core structure of TnT. Triton X-100 extraction of cardiac muscle fibers promoted production of the NH2-terminal truncated cardiac TnT (cTnT-ND), indicating a myofibril-associated proteolytic activity. Mu-calpain is a myofibril-associated protease and is known to degrade TnT. Supporting a role of mu-calpain in producing cTnT-ND in myocardial ischemia reperfusion, calpain inhibitors decreased the level of cTnT-ND in Triton-extracted myofibrils. Mu-calpain treatment of the cardiac myofibril and troponin complex specifically reproduced cTnT-ND. In contrast, mu-calpain treatment of isolated cardiac TnT resulted in nonspecific degradation, suggesting that this structural modification is relevant to physiological structures of the myofilament. Triton X-100 treatment of transgenic mouse cardiac myofibrils overexpressing fast skeletal muscle TnT produced similar NH2-terminal truncations of the endogenous and exogenous TnT, despite different amino acid sequences at the cleavage site. With the functional consequences of removing the NH2-terminal variable region of TnT, the mu-calpain-mediated proteolytic modification of TnT may act as an acute mechanism to adjust muscle contractility under stress conditions.

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