Impaired muscle relaxation and mitochondrial fission associated with genetic ablation of cytoplasmic actin isoforms

Allison R. O'Rourke, Angus Lindsay, Michael D. Tarpey, Samantha Yuen, Preston McCourt, D'anna M. Nelson, Benjamin J. Perrin, David D. Thomas, Espen E. Spangenburg, Dawn A. Lowe, James M. Ervasti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


While α-actin isoforms predominate in adult striated muscle, skeletal muscle-specific knockouts (KOs) of nonmuscle cytoplasmic βcyto- or γcyto-actin each cause a mild, but progressive myopathy effected by an unknown mechanism. Using transmission electron microscopy, we identified morphological abnormalities in both the mitochondria and the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) in aged muscle-specific βcyto- and γcyto-actin KO mice. We found βcyto- and γcyto-actin proteins to be enriched in isolated mitochondrial-associated membrane preparations, which represent the interface between mitochondria and sarco-endoplasmic reticulum important in signaling and mitochondrial dynamics. We also measured significantly elongated and interconnected mitochondrial morphologies associated with a significant decrease in mitochondrial fission events in primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts lacking βcyto- and/or γcyto-actin. Interestingly, mitochondrial respiration in muscle was not measurably affected as oxygen consumption was similar in skeletal muscle fibers from 12 month-old muscle-specific βcyto- and γcyto-actin KO mice. Instead, we found that the maximal rate of relaxation after isometric contraction was significantly slowed in muscles of 12-month-old βcyto- and γcyto-actin muscle-specific KO mice. Our data suggest that impaired Ca2+ re-uptake may presage development of the observed SR morphological changes in aged mice while providing a potential pathological mechanism for the observed myopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-500
Number of pages20
JournalFEBS Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Characterization Facility at the University of Minnesota for TEM sample preparation. Maria Raz-zoli and Alessandro Bartolomucci at the Integrated Biology and Physiology Core at the University of Minnesota for whole body respirometry. Ji Li for experimental design and analysis of SERCA activity data. Funded by a NIH grant AR049899 to JME, a NIH grant AR066660 to EES, a Pilot and Feasibility Grant to BJP awarded through NIH P30 AR057220, and a NIH training grant AG029796 to DMN.


  • isoforms
  • mitochondrial dynamics
  • β-actin
  • γ-actin


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