Ju Chen Laboratory In the Department of Medicine

Nesprin - anchoring the nucleus

Recent interest has focused on the importance of the nucleus and associated nucleoskeleton in regulating changes in cardiac gene expression in response to biomechanical load. Mutations in genes encoding proteins of the inner nuclear membrane and nucleoskeleton, which cause cardiomyopathy, also disrupt expression of a biomechanically responsive gene program. Furthermore, mutations in the outer nuclear membrane protein Nesprin 1 and 2 have been implicated in cardiomyopathy.

We identified for the first time a role for the outer nuclear membrane proteins, Nesprin 1 and Nesprin 2, in regulating gene expression in response to biomechanical load. Ablation of both Nesprin 1 and 2 in cardiomyocytes, but neither alone, resulted in early onset cardiomyopathy. Mutant cardiomyocytes exhibited altered nuclear positioning, shape, and chromatin positioning. Loss of Nesprin 1 or 2, or both, led to impairment of gene expression changes in response to biomechanical stimuli.
These data suggested a model whereby biomechanical signals are communicated from proteins of the outer nuclear membrane, to the inner nuclear membrane and nucleoskeleton, to result in changes in gene expression required for adaptation of the cardiomyocyte to changes in biomechanical load, and give insights into etiologies underlying cardiomyopathy consequent to mutations in Nesprin 1 and 2.
Data from this project have recently been published in PLOS Genetics

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    Indroneal Banerjee, PhD
    Lead postdoctoral scientist on the Nesprin cardiac muscle project.

    Wei Feng, PhD
    Postdoctoral scientist on the Nesprin project.

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