Intracellular calcium is a major coordinator of numerous aspects of cellular physiology, including muscle contractility and cell survival. In cardiac muscle, aberrant Ca(2+) cycling has been implicated in a range of pathological conditions including cardiomyopathies and heart failure. The sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca(2+) transport adenosine triphosphatase (SERCA2a) and its regulator phospholamban (PLN) have a central role in modulating Ca(2+) homeostasis and, therefore, cardiac function. Herein, we discuss the mechanisms through which SERCA2a and PLN control cardiomyocyte function in health and disease. Emphasis is placed on our newly identified PLN-binding partner HS-1-associated protein X-1 (HAX-1), which has an anti-apoptotic function and presents with numerous similarities to Bcl-2. Recent evidence indicates that proteins of the Bcl-2 family can influence ER Ca(2+) content, a critical determinant of cellular sensitivity to apoptosis. The discovery of the PLN/HAX-1 interaction therefore unveils an important new link between Ca(2+) homeostasis and cell survival, with significant therapeutic potential.
Cardiac contractility is regulated through the activity of various key Ca(2+)-handling proteins. The sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum (SR) Ca(2+) transport ATPase (SERCA2a) and its inhibitor phospholamban (PLN) control the uptake of Ca(2+) by SR membranes during relaxation. Recently, the antiapoptotic HS-1-associated protein X-1 (HAX-1) was identified as a binding partner of PLN, and this interaction was postulated to regulate cell apoptosis. In the current study, we determined that HAX-1 can also bind to SERCA2. Deletion mapping analysis demonstrated that amino acid residues 575-594 of SERCA2's nucleotide binding domain are required for its interaction with the C-terminal domain of HAX-1, containing amino acids 203-245. In transiently cotransfected human embryonic kidney 293 cells, recombinant SERCA2 was specifically targeted to the ER, whereas HAX-1 selectively concentrated at mitochondria. On triple transfections with PLN, however, HAX-1 massively translocated to the ER membranes, where it codistributed with PLN and SERCA2. Overexpression of SERCA2 abrogated the protective effects of HAX-1 on cell survival, after hypoxia/reoxygenation or thapsigargin treatment. Importantly, HAX-1 overexpression was associated with down-regulation of SERCA2 expression levels, resulting in significant reduction of apparent ER Ca(2+) levels. These findings suggest that HAX-1 may promote cell survival through modulation of SERCA2 protein levels and thus ER Ca(2+) stores.
The muscle LIM protein (MLP) and cofilin 2 (CFL2) are important regulators of striated myocyte function. Mutations in the corresponding genes have been directly associated with severe human cardiac and skeletal myopathies, and aberrant expression patterns have often been observed in affected muscles. Herein, we have investigated whether MLP and CFL2 are involved in common molecular mechanisms, which would promote our understanding of disease pathogenesis. We have shown for the first time, using a range of biochemical and immunohistochemical methods, that MLP binds directly to CFL2 in human cardiac and skeletal muscles. The interaction involves the inter-LIM domain, amino acids 94 to 105, of MLP and the amino-terminal domain, amino acids 1 to 105, of CFL2, which includes part of the actin depolymerization domain. The MLP/CFL2 complex is stronger in moderately acidic (pH 6.8) environments and upon CFL2 phosphorylation, while it is independent of Ca(2+) levels. This interaction has direct implications in actin cytoskeleton dynamics in regulating CFL2-dependent F-actin depolymerization, with maximal depolymerization enhancement at an MLP/CFL2 molecular ratio of 2:1. Deregulation of this interaction by intracellular pH variations, CFL2 phosphorylation, MLP or CFL2 gene mutations, or expression changes, as observed in a range of cardiac and skeletal myopathies, could impair F-actin depolymerization, leading to sarcomere dysfunction and disease.
Skeletal muscle contraction is triggered by the excitation-contraction (E-C) coupling machinery residing at the triad, a membrane structure formed by the juxtaposition of T-tubules and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) cisternae. The formation and maintenance of this structure is key for muscle function but is not well characterized. We have investigated the mechanisms leading to X-linked myotubular myopathy (XLMTM), a severe congenital disorder due to loss of function mutations in the MTM1 gene, encoding myotubularin, a phosphoinositide phosphatase thought to have a role in plasma membrane homeostasis and endocytosis. Using a mouse model of the disease, we report that Mtm1-deficient muscle fibers have a decreased number of triads and abnormal longitudinally oriented T-tubules. In addition, SR Ca(2+) release elicited by voltage-clamp depolarizations is strongly depressed in myotubularin-deficient muscle fibers, with myoplasmic Ca(2+) removal and SR Ca(2+) content essentially unaffected. At the molecular level, Mtm1-deficient myofibers exhibit a 3-fold reduction in type 1 ryanodine receptor (RyR1) protein level. These data reveal a critical role of myotubularin in the proper organization and function of the E-C coupling machinery and strongly suggest that defective RyR1-mediated SR Ca(2+) release is responsible for the failure of muscle function in myotubular myopathy.
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