To elucidate the role of cardiac myosin-binding protein-C (MyBP-C) in myocardial structure and function, we have produced mice expressing altered forms of this sarcomere protein. The engineered mutations encode truncated forms of MyBP-C in which the cardiac myosin heavy chain-binding and titin- binding domain has been replaced with novel amino acid residues. Analogous heterozygous defects in humans cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Mice that are homozygous for the mutated MyBP-C alleles express less than 10% of truncated protein in M-bands of otherwise normal sarcomeres. Homozygous mice bearing mutated MyBP-C alleles are viable but exhibit neonatal onset of a progressive dilated cardiomyopathy with prominent histopathology of myocyte hypertrophy, myofibrillar disarray, fibrosis, and dystrophic calcification. Echocardiography of homozygous mutant mice showed left ventricular dilation and reduced contractile function at birth; myocardial hypertrophy increased as the animals matured. Left-ventricular pressure-volume analyses in adult homozygous mutant mice demonstrated depressed systolic contractility with diastolic dysfunction. These data revise our understanding of the role that MyBP-C plays in myofibrillogenesis during cardiac development and indicate the importance of this protein for long-term sarcomere function and normal cardiac morphology. We also propose that mice bearing homozygous familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-causing mutations may provide useful tools for predicting the severity of disease that these mutations will cause in humans.
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