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J Biol Chem. 2012 May 4;287(19):16047-57. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.313841. Epub 2012 Mar 8.

Dual color photoactivation localization microscopy of cardiomyopathy-associated desmin mutants.

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E. & H. Klessmann Institute for Cardiovascular Research & Development, Ruhr-University Bochum, 32545 Bad Oeynhausen, Germany.


Mutations in the DES gene coding for the intermediate filament protein desmin may cause skeletal and cardiac myopathies, which are frequently characterized by cytoplasmic aggregates of desmin and associated proteins at the cellular level. By atomic force microscopy, we demonstrated filament formation defects of desmin mutants, associated with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy. To understand the pathogenesis of this disease, it is essential to analyze desmin filament structures under conditions in which both healthy and mutant desmin are expressed at equimolar levels mimicking an in vivo situation. Here, we applied dual color photoactivation localization microscopy using photoactivatable fluorescent proteins genetically fused to desmin and characterized the heterozygous status in living cells lacking endogenous desmin. In addition, we applied fluorescence resonance energy transfer to unravel short distance structural patterns of desmin mutants in filaments. For the first time, we present consistent high resolution data on the structural effects of five heterozygous desmin mutations on filament formation in vitro and in living cells. Our results may contribute to the molecular understanding of the pathological filament formation defects of heterozygous DES mutations in cardiomyopathies.

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