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Research Article

Developmental regulation of MURF ubiquitin ligases and autophagy proteins nbr1, p62/SQSTM1 and LC3 during cardiac myofibril assembly and turnover


The striated muscle-specific tripartite motif (TRIM) proteins TRIM63/MURF1, TRIM55/MURF2 and TRIM54/MURF3 can function as ubiquitin E3 ligases in ubiquitin-mediated muscle protein turnover. Despite their well-characterised roles in muscle atrophy, the dynamics of MURF expression in the development and early postnatal adaptation of striated muscle is largely unknown. Here, we show that MURF2 is expressed at the very onset of mouse cardiac differentiation at embryonic day 8.5, and represents a sensitive marker for differentiating myocardium. During cardiac development, expression shifts from the 50 kDa to the 60 kDa A-isoform, which dominates postnatally. In contrast, MURF1 shows strong postnatal upregulation and MURF3 is not significantly expressed before birth. MURF2 expression parallels that of the autophagy-associated proteins LC3, p62/SQSTM1 and nbr1. SiRNA knockdown of MURF2 in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes disrupts posttranslational microtubule modification and myofibril assembly, and is only partly compensated by upregulation of MURF3 but not MURF1. Knockdown of both MURF2 and MURF3 severely disrupts the formation of ordered Z- and M-bands, likely by perturbed tubulin dynamics. These results suggest that ubiquitin-mediated protein turnover and MURF2 in particular play an unrecognised role in the earliest steps of heart muscle differentiation, and that partial complementation of MURF2 deficiency is afforded by MURF3.Research Highlights► MURF muscle ubiquitin ligases are developmentally regulated in mouse heart. ► MURF2 is the dominant cardiac MURF isogene expressed from mouse E8.5 onwards. ► MURF2 regulates microtubule dynamics in cardiac sarcomere assembly in vitro. ► MURF 2 and 3 show partial functional compensation in sarcomere assembly.