Emerin is a nuclear membrane protein that bines lamina filaments. Emerin mutations cause Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, affecting heart, skeletal muscle, and tendons. Emerin belongs to the conserved LEM-domain family of nuclear proteins. The LEM-domain of emerin binds BAF (barrier to autointegration factor), a conserved chromatin protein of unknown function. We propose that LEM proteins structurally link chromatin (via BAF) to the lamina, and also bind partners that mediate DNA replication or transcriptional repression. We propose to determine the essential function of three conserved LEM proteins in C.elegans: emerin, MAN1 and lem-3. In C. elelgans, all or most cells express emerin and MAN1, but the RNAi-induced loss of emerin or MAN1 has no phenotype. However, loss of both proteins is lethal in embryos. Thus, emerin and MAN1 have essential function(s). We will test the hypothesis that all three LEM proteins bind directly to BAF and lamin, and use site-directed mutagenesis to map their binding regions. We will use RNAi to deplete each LEM protein, and pairs of LEM proteins to test for overlapping and cell-type-specific functions in vivo. By identifying and characterizing new binding partners for emerin, MAN1 and lem- 3, we will test our hypothesis that LEM proteins are directly involved in replication, transcription, or lamin dynamics. We will determine if mutant LEM proteins, whose binding activities are defined in vitro, can rescue lethality of emerin: MAN1 (RNAi) embryos. WE will screen for mutations that are synthetically lethal in an emerin null or MAN1 null background, to identify proteins that mediate the essential functions of emerin and MAN1. This work will be the first genetic analysis of the nuclear lamina. Our work will yield basic knowledge about the functions of LEM proteins, and their interactions with lamins and BAF. This work can be extended to humans to predict the molecular mechanisms of heart disease and muscular dystrophy caused by loss of emerin.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
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Cell Development and Function Integrated Review Group (CDF)
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Shapiro, Bert I
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Johns Hopkins University
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
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