Nebulin binding impedes mutant desmin filament assembly. Academic Article uri icon


  • Desmin intermediate filaments (DIFs) form an intricate meshwork that organizes myofibers within striated muscle cells. The mechanisms that regulate the association of desmin to sarcomeres and their role in desminopathy are incompletely understood. Here we compare the effect nebulin binding has on the assembly kinetics of desmin and three desminopathy-causing mutant desmin variants carrying mutations in the head, rod, or tail domains of desmin (S46F, E245D, and T453I). These mutants were chosen because the mutated residues are located within the nebulin-binding regions of desmin. We discovered that, although nebulin M160-164 bound to both desmin tetrameric complexes and mature filaments, all three mutants exhibited significantly delayed filament assembly kinetics when bound to nebulin. Correspondingly, all three mutants displayed enhanced binding affinities and capacities for nebulin relative to wild-type desmin. Electron micrographs showed that nebulin associates with elongated normal and mutant DIFs assembled in vitro. Moreover, we measured significantly delayed dynamics for the mutant desmin E245D relative to wild-type desmin in fluorescence recovery after photobleaching in live-cell imaging experiments. We propose a mechanism by which mutant desmin slows desmin remodeling in myocytes by retaining nebulin near the Z-discs. On the basis of these data, we suggest that for some filament-forming desmin mutants, the molecular etiology of desminopathy results from subtle deficiencies in their association with nebulin, a major actin-binding filament protein of striated muscle.

published proceedings

  • Mol Biol Cell

author list (cited authors)

  • Baker, L. K., Gillis, D. C., Sharma, S., Ambrus, A., Herrmann, H., & Conover, G. M.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Baker, Laura K||Gillis, David C||Sharma, Sarika||Ambrus, Andy||Herrmann, Harald||Conover, Gloria M

editor list (cited editors)

  • Magin, T. M.

publication date

  • June 2013