Cardiomyopathy is a common and lethal complication in patients with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD), one of the most prevalent forms of muscular dystrophy. The pathogenesis underlying LGMD-related cardiomyopathy remains unclear. NRIP (gene name DCAF6), a Ca2+-dependent calmodulin binding protein, was reduced in dystrophic muscles from LGMD patients. Mice lacking NRIP exhibit a myopathic phenotype resembling that in LGMD patients, making NRIP deficiency a potential culprit leading to cardiomyopathy. This study aimed to determine if NRIP deficiency leads to cardiomyopathy and to explore the underlying molecular mechanisms.
We showed that NRIP expression was reduced in both human and mouse failing hearts. Muscle-specific NRIP knockout (MCK-Cre::Dcaf6flox/flox) mouse heart and isolated cardiomyocytes exhibited markedly reduced contractility. Transmission electron microscopy revealed abnormal sarcomere structures and mitochondrial morphology in MCK-Cre::Dcaf6flox/flox hearts. Protein co-immunoprecipitation and confocal imaging revealed that NRIP interacts with α-actinin 2 (ACTN2) at the Z-disc. We found that NRIP facilitated ACTN2-mediated F-actin bundling, and that NRIP deficiency resulted in reduced binding between Z-disc proteins ACTN2 and Cap-Z. In addition, NRIP-deficiency led to increased mitochondrial ROS and impaired mitochondrial respiration/ATP production owing to elevated cellular NADH/NAD+ ratios. Treatment with mitochondria-directed antioxidant mitoTEMPO or NAD+ precursor nicotinic acid restored mitochondrial function and cardiac contractility in MCK-Cre::Dcaf6flox/flox mice.
This study revealed that NRIP is essential to maintain sarcomere structure and mitochondrial/contractile function in cardiomyocytes. Our results revealed a novel role for NRIP deficiency in the pathogenesis of LGMD and heart failure. Targeting NRIP, therefore, could be a powerful new approach to treat myocardial dysfunction in LGMD and heart failure patients.