N-RAP in Dilated Cardiomyopathy: The muscle-specific protein NRAP is concentrated at cardiac intercalated disks, plays a role in myofibril assembly, and is upregulated early in mouse models of dilated cardiomyopathy. Using a tet-off system, we developed novel transgenic lines exhibiting cardiac-specific NRAP overexpression 2.5 times greater than normal. At 40-50 weeks, NRAP overexpression resulted in dilation and decreased ejection fraction in the right ventricle, with little effect on the left ventricle. Expression of transcripts encoding brain natriuretic peptide and skeletal alpha-actin was increased by cardiac-specific NRAP overexpression, indicative of a cardiomyopathic response. NRAP overexpression did not alter the levels or organization of N-cadherin and connexin-43. The results show that chronic NRAP overexpression in the mouse leads to right ventricular cardiomyopathy by 10 months, but that the early NRAP upregulation previously observed in some mouse models of dilated cardiomyopathy is unlikely to account for the remodeling of intercalated disks and left ventricular dysfunction observed in those cases. Scaffolds and Chaperones in Myofibril Assembly: Sarcomere assembly in striated muscles has long been described as a series of steps leading to assembly of individual proteins into thick filaments, thin filaments and Z-lines. Decades of previous work focused on the order in which various structural proteins adopted the striated organization typical of mature myofibrils. These studies led to the view that actin and alpha-actinin assemble into premyofibril structures separately from myosin filaments, and that these structures are then assembled into myofibrils with centered myosin filaments and actin filaments anchored at the Z-lines. More recent studies have shown that particular scaffolding proteins and chaperone proteins are required for individual steps in assembly. We reviewed the evidence that N-RAP, a LIM domain and nebulin repeat protein, scaffolds assembly of actin and alpha-actinin into I-Z-I structures in the first steps of assembly;that the heat shock chaperone proteins Hsp90 &Hsc70 cooperate with UNC-45 to direct the folding of muscle myosin and its assembly into thick filaments;and that the kelch repeat protein Krp1 promotes lateral fusion of premyofibril structures to form mature striated myofibrils. The evidence shows that myofibril assembly is a complex process that requires the action of particular catalysts and scaffolds at individual steps. The scaffolds and chaperones required for assembly are potential regulators of myofibrillogenesis, and abnormal function of these proteins caused by mutation or pathological processes could in principle contribute to diseases of cardiac and skeletal muscles.
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