Abstract 286: Structural Determinants Of Thermodynamic Stability And Actin-binding Function Of Dystrophin And Utrophin
Muscular dystrophy (MD) is an incurable disease, and affects all types of muscles. The decreased function of heart muscles causes heart problems such as cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. A deficiency in functional dystrophin protein in muscle cells triggers the onset of Duchenne MD and Becker MD. Utrophin is the closest homologue of dystrophin and is being tested as a protein drug to replace the loss of functional dystrophin in human patients. However, utrophin is less stable and binds to actin through a different mode of contact when compared with dystrophin. To optimize utrophin as the protein drug, we first need to understand how its molecular structure controls its stability and function. Utrophin and dystrophin bind to actin using tandem calponin-homology (CH) domains at their N-terminus. Individual CH domains of utrophin and dystrophin are very similar in amino acid sequence and their three dimensional structures. The major difference is in their relative orientation around the linker region that connects the two CH domains. To determine the role of the linker, we designed constructs with linkers switched between utrophin and dystrophin. Our results indicate that the tandem CH domain of utrophin with dystrophin linker (UDL) is more stable than that of utrophin but less stable than that of dystrophin. Similarly, tandem CH domain of dystrophin with utrophin linker (DUL) is less stable than that of dystrophin but more stable than that of utrophin. Kinetic folding and unfolding studies suggest that the linker predominantly affects the folding rate rather than the unfolding rate. In addition to stability and folding, the linker also controls protein aggregation. UDL is more prone to aggregation when compared with that of utrophin, whereas DUL is less prone to aggregation when compared with that of dystrophin. These results indicate that the linker plays a major role in controlling the stability and function of tandem CH domains, and further suggests that it is possible to engineer utrophin to behave precisely like dystrophin based on their molecular structures.
- © 2013 by American Heart Association, Inc.