Disease-causing missense mutations in actin binding domain 1 of dystrophin induce thermodynamic instability and protein aggregation

Davin M. Henderson, Ann Lee, James M. Ervasti

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68 Scopus citations


Mutations in the dystrophin gene cause Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) most commonly through loss of protein expression. In a small subpopulation of patients, missense mutations can cause DMD, Becker muscular dystrophy, or X-linked cardiomyopathy. Nearly one-half of disease-causing missense mutations are located in actin-binding domain 1 (ABD1) of dystrophin. To test the hypothesis that ABD1 missense mutations cause disease by impairing actin-binding activity, we engineered the K18N, L54R, D165V, A168D, L172H, and Y231N mutations into the full-length dystrophin cDNA and characterized the biochemical properties of each mutant protein. The K18N and L54R mutations are associated with the most severe diseases in humans and each caused a small but significant 4-fold decrease in actin-binding affinity, while the affinities of the other four mutant proteins were not significantly different from WT dystrophin. More interestingly, WT dystrophin was observed to unfold in a single-step, highly cooperative manner. In contrast, all six mutant proteins were significantly more prone to thermal denaturation and aggregation. Our results suggest that missense mutations in ABD1 may all cause loss of dystrophin function via protein instability and aggregation rather than through loss of ligand binding function. However, more severe disease progressions may be due to the combinatorial effects of some mutations on both protein aggregation and impaired actin-binding activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9632-9637
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 25 2010


  • Calponin homology domain
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Thermal stability


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