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Cytoskeleton (Hoboken). 2013 Mar;70(3):134-47. doi: 10.1002/cm.21095. Epub 2013 Feb 1.

Nonmyofilament-associated troponin T3 nuclear and nucleolar localization sequence and leucine zipper domain mediate muscle cell apoptosis.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, 1 Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


Troponin T (TnT) plays a major role in striated muscle contraction. We recently demonstrated that the fast skeletal muscle TnT3 isoform is localized in the muscle nucleus, and either its full-length or COOH-terminus leads to muscle cell apoptosis. Here, we further explored the mechanism by which it enters the nucleus and promotes cytotoxicity. Amino acid truncation and substitution showed that its COOH-terminus contains a dominant nuclear/nucleolar localization sequence (KLKRQK) and the basic lysine and arginine residues might play an important role in the nuclear retention and nucleolar enrichment of KLKRQK-DsRed fusion proteins. Deleting this domain or substituting lysine and arginine residues (KLAAQK) resulted in a dramatic loss of TnT3 nuclear and nucleolar localization. In contrast, the GATAKGKVGGRWK domain-DsRed construct localized exclusively in the cytoplasm, indicating that a nuclear exporting sequence is possibly localized in this region. Additionally, we identified a classical DNA-binding leucine zipper domain (LZD) which is conserved among TnT isoforms and species. Deletion of LZD or KLKRQK sequence significantly reduced cell apoptosis compared to full-length TnT3. We conclude that TnT3 contains both a nuclear localization signal and a DNA-binding domain, which may mediate nuclear/nucleolar signaling and muscle cell apoptosis.

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