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Hum Mol Genet. 2013 Dec 15;22(24):4978-87. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt345. Epub 2013 Jul 25.

Mutations in repeating structural motifs of tropomyosin cause gain of function in skeletal muscle myopathy patients.

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  • 1NHLI, Imperial College London, London, W12 0NN, UK.


The congenital myopathies include a wide spectrum of clinically, histologically and genetically variable neuromuscular disorders many of which are caused by mutations in genes for sarcomeric proteins. Some congenital myopathy patients have a hypercontractile phenotype. Recent functional studies demonstrated that ACTA1 K326N and TPM2 ΔK7 mutations were associated with hypercontractility that could be explained by increased myofibrillar Ca(2+) sensitivity. A recent structure of the complex of actin and tropomyosin in the relaxed state showed that both these mutations are located in the actin-tropomyosin interface. Tropomyosin is an elongated molecule with a 7-fold repeated motif of around 40 amino acids corresponding to the 7 actin monomers it interacts with. Actin binds to tropomyosin electrostatically at two points, through Asp25 and through a cluster of amino acids that includes Lys326, mutated in the gain-of-function mutation. Asp25 interacts with tropomyosin K6, next to K7 that was mutated in the other gain-of-function mutation. We identified four tropomyosin motifs interacting with Asp25 (K6-K7, K48-K49, R90-R91 and R167-K168) and three E-E/D-K/R motifs interacting with Lys326 (E139, E181 and E218), and we predicted that the known skeletal myopathy mutations ΔK7, ΔK49, R91G, ΔE139, K168E and E181K would cause a gain of function. Tests by an in vitro motility assay confirmed that these mutations increased Ca(2+) sensitivity, while mutations not in these motifs (R167H, R244G) decreased Ca(2+) sensitivity. The work reported here explains the molecular mechanism for 6 out of 49 known disease-causing mutations in the TPM2 and TPM3 genes, derived from structural data of the actin-tropomyosin interface.

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