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J Physiol. 2019 May;597(9):2403-2420. doi: 10.1113/JP277333. Epub 2019 Apr 4.

The R249Q hypertrophic cardiomyopathy myosin mutation decreases contractility in Drosophila by impeding force production.

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Department of Biological Sciences & Biomedical Engineering, Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, USA.
Department of Biology, Molecular Biology Institute and Heart Institute, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA.



Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a genetic disease that causes thickening of the heart's ventricular walls and is a leading cause of sudden cardiac death. HCM is caused by missense mutations in muscle proteins including myosin, but how these mutations alter muscle mechanical performance in largely unknown. We investigated the disease mechanism for HCM myosin mutation R249Q by expressing it in the indirect flight muscle of Drosophila melanogaster and measuring alterations to muscle and flight performance. Muscle mechanical analysis revealed R249Q decreased muscle power production due to slower muscle kinetics and decreased force production; force production was reduced because fewer mutant myosin cross-bridges were bound simultaneously to actin. This work does not support the commonly proposed hypothesis that myosin HCM mutations increase muscle contractility, or causes a gain in function; instead, it suggests that for some myosin HCM mutations, hypertrophy is a compensation for decreased contractility.


Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is an inherited disease that causes thickening of the heart's ventricular walls. A generally accepted hypothesis for this phenotype is that myosin heavy chain HCM mutations increase muscle contractility. To test this hypothesis, we expressed an HCM myosin mutation, R249Q, in Drosophila indirect flight muscle (IFM) and assessed myofibril structure, skinned fibre mechanical properties, and flight ability. Mechanics experiments were performed on fibres dissected from 2-h-old adult flies, prior to degradation of IFM myofilament structure, which started at 2 days old and increased with age. Homozygous and heterozygous R249Q fibres showed decreased maximum power generation by 67% and 44%, respectively. Decreases in force and work and slower overall muscle kinetics caused homozygous fibres to produce less power. While heterozygous fibres showed no overall slowing of muscle kinetics, active force and work production dropped by 68% and 47%, respectively, which hindered power production. The muscle apparent rate constant 2πb decreased 33% for homozygous but increased for heterozygous fibres. The apparent rate constant 2πc was greater for homozygous fibres. This indicates that R249Q myosin is slowing attachment while speeding up detachment from actin, resulting in less time bound. Decreased IFM power output caused 43% and 33% decreases in Drosophila flight ability and 19% and 6% drops in wing beat frequency for homozygous and heterozygous flies, respectively. Overall, our results do not support the increased contractility hypothesis. Instead, our results suggest the ventricular hypertrophy for human R249Q mutation is a compensatory response to decreases in heart muscle power output.


Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; Insect; Locomotion; Muscle physiology; Myosin

[Available on 2020-05-01]

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