Desmin and Microtubules Maintain Nucear Shape and Chromatin Organization in the Adult Cardiomyocyte

Julie Heffler, University of Pennsylvania


Mechanical forces are transduced to nuclear responses via the linkers of the nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton (LINC) complex, which couples the cytoskeleton to the nuclear lamina and associated chromatin. While disruption of the LINC complex can cause cardiomyopathy, the relevant interactions that bridge the nucleoskeleton to cytoskeleton are poorly understood in the cardiomyocyte, where cytoskeletal organization is divergent from that of other cell types. Furthermore, while microtubules and desmin intermediate filaments associate closely with cardiomyocyte nuclei, the importance of these interactions is unknown. Here, we sought to determine how cytoskeletal interactions with the LINC complex regulate nuclear homeostasis in the cardiomyocyte and health of the myocyte as a whole. To this end, we acutely disrupted the LINC complex, microtubules, actin, and intermediate filaments and assessed the consequences on nuclear morphology and genome organization in rat ventricular cardiomyocytes via a combination of super-resolution imaging, biophysical, and genomic approaches. We find that a balance of dynamic microtubules and desmin intermediate filaments is required to maintain nuclear shape and the fidelity of the nuclear envelope and lamina. Upon depletion of desmin (or nesprin [nuclear envelope spectrin repeat protein]-3, its binding partner in the LINC complex), polymerizing microtubules collapse the nucleus and drive infolding of the nuclear membrane. This results in DNA damage, a loss of genome organization, and broad transcriptional changes. The collapse in nuclear integrity is concomitant with compromised contractile function and may contribute to the pathophysiological changes observed in desmin-related myopathies.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Biology

Recommended Citation

Heffler, Julie, "Desmin and Microtubules Maintain Nucear Shape and Chromatin Organization in the Adult Cardiomyocyte" (2021). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI28490845.