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Hum Mol Genet. 2013 Jun 15;22(12):2335-49. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt079. Epub 2013 Feb 19.

Myopathic lamin mutations impair nuclear stability in cells and tissue and disrupt nucleo-cytoskeletal coupling.

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Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Lamins are intermediate filament proteins that assemble into a meshwork underneath the inner nuclear membrane, the nuclear lamina. Mutations in the LMNA gene, encoding lamins A and C, cause a variety of diseases collectively called laminopathies. The disease mechanism for these diverse conditions is not well understood. Since lamins A and C are fundamental determinants of nuclear structure and stability, we tested whether defects in nuclear mechanics could contribute to the disease development, especially in laminopathies affecting mechanically stressed tissue such as muscle. Using skin fibroblasts from laminopathy patients and lamin A/C-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblasts stably expressing a broad panel of laminopathic lamin A mutations, we found that several mutations associated with muscular dystrophy and dilated cardiomyopathy resulted in more deformable nuclei; in contrast, lamin mutants responsible for diseases without muscular phenotypes did not alter nuclear deformability. We confirmed our results in intact muscle tissue, demonstrating that nuclei of transgenic Drosophila melanogaster muscle expressing myopathic lamin mutations deformed more under applied strain than controls. In vivo and in vitro studies indicated that the loss of nuclear stiffness resulted from impaired assembly of mutant lamins into the nuclear lamina. Although only a subset of lamin mutations associated with muscular diseases caused increased nuclear deformability, almost all mutations tested had defects in force transmission between the nucleus and cytoskeleton. In conclusion, our results indicate that although defective nuclear stability may play a role in the development of muscle diseases, other factors, such as impaired nucleo-cytoskeletal coupling, likely contribute to the muscle phenotype.

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