- Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a lethal muscle disease, caused by mutations in the gene encoding dystrophin, an actin-binding cytoskeletal protein. Absence of functional dystrophin results in muscle weakness and degeneration, eventually leading to cardiac and respiratory failure. Strategies to replace the missing dystrophin via gene therapy have been intensively pursued. However, the dystrophin gene is too large for current gene therapy approaches. Currently available micro-dystrophin constructs lack the actin-binding domain 2 and show decreased actin-binding affinity in vitro compared to full-length dystrophin.
- The N-terminal region (NTR) of ryanodine receptor (RyR) channels is critical for the regulation of Ca2+ release during excitation–contraction (EC) coupling in muscle. The NTR hosts numerous mutations linked to skeletal (RyR1) and cardiac (RyR2) myopathies, highlighting its potential as a therapeutic target. Here, we constructed two biosensors by labeling the mouse RyR2 NTR at domains A, B, and C with FRET pairs. Using fluorescence lifetime (FLT) detection of intramolecular FRET signal, we developed high-throughput screening (HTS) assays with these biosensors to identify small-molecule RyR modulators.
- Cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C) interacts with actin and myosin to modulate cardiac muscle contractility. These interactions are disfavored by cMyBP-C phosphorylation. Heart failure patients often display decreased cMyBP-C phosphorylation, and phosphorylation in model systems has been shown to be cardioprotective against heart failure. Therefore, cMyBP-C is a potential target for heart failure drugs that mimic phosphorylation or perturb its interactions with actin/myosin. Here we have used a novel fluorescence lifetime-based assay to identify small-molecule inhibitors of actin-cMyBP-C binding.
- The Ca-ATPase isoform 2a (SERCA2a) pumps cytosolic Ca2+ into the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) of cardiac myocytes, enabling muscle relaxation during diastole. Abnormally high cytosolic [Ca2+] is a central factor in heart failure, suggesting that augmentation of SERCA2a Ca2+ transport activity could be a promising therapeutic approach. SERCA2a is inhibited by the protein phospholamban (PLB), and a novel transmembrane peptide, dwarf open reading frame (DWORF), is proposed to enhance SR Ca2+ uptake and myocyte contractility by displacing PLB from binding to SERCA2a.
- Numerous diseases are linked to mutations in the actin-binding domains (ABDs) of conserved cytoskeletal proteins, including β-III-spectrin, α-actinin, filamin, and dystrophin. A β-III-spectrin ABD mutation (L253P) linked to spinocerebellar ataxia type 5 (SCA5) causes a dramatic increase in actin binding. Reducing actin binding of L253P is thus a potential therapeutic approach for SCA5 pathogenesis. Here, we validate a high-throughput screening (HTS) assay to discover potential disrupters of the interaction between the mutant β-III-spectrin ABD and actin in live cells.