Elucidating the Mechanisms by Which Nebulin Regulates Thin Filament Assembly in Skeletal Muscle
AuthorPappas, Christopher Theodore
AdvisorGregorio, Carol C.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoEmbargo: Release after 5/26/2011
AbstractProper contraction of striated muscle requires the assembly of actin filaments with precise spacing, polarity and lengths, however the mechanisms by which the cell accomplishes this remain unclear. In one model, the giant protein nebulin is proposed to function as a "molecular ruler" specifying the final lengths of the actin filaments. This dissertation focuses on determining the mechanisms by which nebulin regulates thin filament assembly. We found that nebulin physically interacts with CapZ, a protein that caps the barbed end of the actin filament within the Z-disc. Reduction of nebulin levels in chick skeletal myocytes via siRNA results in a reduction of assembled CapZ, and a loss of the uniform alignment of the barbed ends of the actin filaments. These data suggest that nebulin restricts the position of thin-filament barbed ends to the Z-disc via a direct interaction with CapZ. Unexpectedly, the CapZ binding site was mapped to a site on nebulin that was previously predicted to localize outside of the Z-disc. Thus, we also propose a novel molecular model of Z-disc architecture in which nebulin interacts with CapZ from a thin filament of an adjacent sarcomere, thus providing a structural link between sarcomeres. To determine the mechanism by which nebulin regulates thin filament length and directly test the molecular ruler hypothesis, a unique small nebulin molecule ("mini-nebulin") was constructed. The introduction of mini-nebulin into chick skeletal myocytes, with endogenous nebulin knocked down, does not result in corresponding shorter actin filaments; an observation that is inconsistent with a strict ruler function. Treatment of these cells, however, with the actin depolymerizing agent Latrunculin A produces filaments that match the length of the mini-nebulin molecule, indicating mini-nebulin stabilizes the actin filaments. Furthermore, knockdown of nebulin results in more dynamic populations of the thin filament components actin, tropomyosin and tropomodulin. Strikingly, introduction of mini-nebulin is able to restore the normal stability of the actin filaments. Taken together, these data indicate that nebulin is responsible for proper actin organization within the Z-disc and contributes to actin filament length regulation by stabilizing the filament, preventing actin depolymerization.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Molecular & Cellular Biology