Molecular changes in the heart of a severe case of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy caused by a desmoglein-2 null allele

Katja Gehmlich, Petros Syrris, Mareike Reimann, Angeliki Asimaki, Elisabeth Ehler, Alison Evans, Giovanni Quarta, Antonis Pantazis, Jeffrey E. Saffitz, William J. McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) is a genetic disorder caused by mutations in desmosomal genes. It is often associated with life-threatening arrhythmias. Some affected individuals develop progressive heart failure and may require cardiac transplantation. 

Methods: The explanted heart of a young adult with end-stage heart failure due to a null allele in desmoglein-2 was studied at macroscopic, microscopic, and molecular level. Myocardial samples were probed for junctional localization of desmosomal components and the gap junction protein connexin43 by immunohistochemical staining. In addition, the protein content of desmosomal and adherens junction markers as well as connexin43 was assessed by Western blotting. 

Results: Histological analysis confirmed ARVC. Despite the loss of specific immunoreactive signal for desmosomal components at the cardiac intercalated disks (shown for plakoglobin, desmoplakin, and plakophilin-2), these proteins could be detected by Western blotting. Only for desmoglein-2, desmocollin-2, and plakoglobin were reduced protein levels observed. Adherens junction proteins were not affected. Lower phosphorylation levels were observed for connexin43; however, localization of the gap junction protein displayed regional differences. At the molecular level, disease progression was more severe in the right ventricle compared to the left ventricle. 

Conclusion: Our data suggest that, in the ARVC heart, plakoglobin is mainly redistributed from the junctions to other cellular pools and that protein degradation only plays a secondary role. Homogenous changes in the phosphorylation status of connexin43 were observed in multiple ARVC samples, suggesting that this might be a general feature of the disease. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-282
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


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