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Histochem Cell Biol. 2006 Mar;125(3):227-38. Epub 2005 Oct 5.

Essential role of obscurin in cardiac myofibrillogenesis and hypertrophic response: evidence from small interfering RNA-mediated gene silencing.

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Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Obscurin is a recently identified giant multidomain muscle protein (approximately 800 kDa) whose structural and regulatory functions remain to be defined. The goal of this study was to examine the effect of obscurin gene silencing induced by RNA interference on the dynamics of myofibrillogenesis and hypertrophic response to phenylephrine in cultured rat cardiomyocytes. We found that that the adenoviral transfection of short interfering RNA (siRNA) constructs targeting the first coding exon of obscurin sequence resulted in progressive depletion of cellular obscurin. Confocal microscopy demonstrated that downregulation of obscurin expression led to the impaired assembly of new myofibrillar clusters and considerable aberrations of the normal structure of the contractile apparatus. While the establishment of the initial periodic pattern of alpha-actinin localization remained mainly unaffected in siRNA-transfected cells, obscurin depletion did cause the defective lateral alignment of myofibrillar bundles, leading to their abnormal bifurcation, dispersal and multiple branching. Bending of immature myofibrils, apparently associated with the loss of their rigidity, a modified titin pattern, the absence of well-formed A-bands in newly formed contractile structures as documented by a diffuse localization of sarcomeric myosin labeling, and an occasional irregular periodicity of sarcomere spacing were typical of obscurin siRNA-treated cells. These results suggest that obscurin is indispensable for spatial positioning of contractile proteins and for the structural integration and stabilization of myofibrils, especially at the stage of myosin filament incorporation and A-band assembly. This demonstrates a vital role for obscurin in myofibrillogenesis and hypertrophic growth.

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