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Circ Heart Fail. 2009 Sep;2(5):456-64. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.108.818237. Epub 2009 Jul 6.

Functional analysis of a unique troponin c mutation, GLY159ASP, that causes familial dilated cardiomyopathy, studied in explanted heart muscle.

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  • 1NHLI, King's College London, United Kingdom.



Familial dilated cardiomyopathy can be caused by mutations in the proteins of the muscle thin filament. In vitro, these mutations decrease Ca(2+) sensitivity and cross-bridge turnover rate, but the mutations have not been investigated in human tissue. We studied the Ca(2+)-regulatory properties of myocytes and troponin extracted from the explanted heart of a patient with inherited dilated cardiomyopathy due to the cTnC G159D mutation.


Mass spectroscopy showed that the mutant cTnC was expressed approximately equimolar with wild-type cTnC. Contraction was compared in skinned ventricular myocytes from the cTnC G159D patient and nonfailing donor heart. Maximal Ca(2+)-activated force was similar in cTnC G159D and donor myocytes, but the Ca(2+) sensitivity of cTnC G159D myocytes was higher (EC(50) G159D/donor=0.60). Thin filaments reconstituted with skeletal muscle actin and human cardiac tropomyosin and troponin were studied by in vitro motility assay. Thin filaments containing the mutation had a higher Ca(2+) sensitivity (EC(50) G159D/donor=0.55 + or - 0.13), whereas the maximally activated sliding speed was unaltered. In addition, the cTnC G159D mutation blunted the change in Ca(2+) sensitivity when TnI was dephosphorylated. With wild-type troponin, Ca(2+) sensitivity was increased (EC(50) P/unP=4.7 + or - 1.9) but not with cTnC G159D troponin (EC(50) P/unP=1.2 + or - 0.1).


We propose that uncoupling of the relationship between phosphorylation and Ca(2+) sensitivity could be the cause of the dilated cardiomyopathy phenotype. The differences between these data and previous in vitro results show that native phosphorylation of troponin I and troponin T and other posttranslational modifications of sarcomeric proteins strongly influence the functional effects of a mutation.

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