Gene-related protein surplus myopathies

Mol Genet Metab. Sep-Oct 2000;71(1-2):267-75. doi: 10.1006/mgme.2000.3064.


Numerous muscular dystrophies, such as dystrophinopathies, sarcoglycanopathies, and emerino- and laminopathies, are marked by the absence or reduction of mutant transsarcolemmal or nuclear proteins. In addition to these recently identified minus-proteinopathies, there are a growing number of plus-proteinopathies among neuromuscular disorders marked by a surplus or excess of endogenous proteins within muscle fibers of different, i.e., nontranssarcolemmal and nonnuclear types. These proteins are often filamentous; for example, desmin and actin accrue in respective desmin-related myopathies, among which are entities marked by mutant desmin, true desminopathies, and actinopathy, the latter often seen as a subgroup in nemaline myopathies. Desmin-related myopathies consist largely of those marked by desmin-containing inclusions and those characterized by desmin-containing granulofilamentous material. When mutations in the desmin gene can be identified, the mutant desmin is thought to form the major myopathological lesion. Together with desmin, other proteins often accumulate. The spectrum of these proteins is quite diverse and encompasses such proteins as dystrophin, nestin, vimentin, alphaB-crystallin, ubiquitin, amyloid precursor protein, and beta-amyloid epitopes, as well as gelsolin and alpha(1)-antichymotrypsin. Among these associated proteins, one, alphaB-crystallin, has been found mutant in one large family, justifying the term alphaB-crystallinopathy as a separate condition among the desmin-related myopathies. Other proteins accruing with desmin have not yet been identified as mutant in desmin-related myopathies. Mutations in the desmin gene entail missense mutations and small deletions. The formation of mutant actin may lead to aggregates of actin filaments which may or may not be associated with formation of sarcoplasmic and/or intranuclear nemaline bodies. A considerable number of missense mutations in the sarcomeric actin gene ACTA1 have been discovered in patients with nemaline myopathy and also in a few patients without myopathological evidence of nemaline bodies in biopsied skeletal muscle fibres. Apart from alphaB-crystallin, no other proteins coaggregating with actin in actin filament aggregates of actinopathy or the actin mutation type of nemaline myopathy have so far been identified. Two further candidates for protein surplus myopathies are hyaline body myopathy, which is marked by accumulation of granular nonfilamentous material within muscle fibers that is rich in myosin and adenosine triphosphatase activities, and hereditary inclusion body myopathies, which are marked by accumulation of tubulofilaments similar to the helical filaments of Alzheimer neurofibrillary tangles. These tubulofilaments consist of diverse proteins as well, though no mutant protein has yet been discovered. So far, no genes responsible for familial hyaline body and hereditary inclusion body myopathies have been identified. The discovery of mutant proteins, desmin, alphaB-crystallin, and actin, as components of surplus or excess proteins accumulating in muscle fibers in certain neuromuscular conditions is responsible for the recent emergence of this new concept of gene-related protein surplus myopathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Desmin / genetics
  • Desmin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyalin / metabolism
  • Hyalin / ultrastructure
  • Inclusion Bodies / metabolism
  • Inclusion Bodies / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscle Proteins / genetics*
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / genetics*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / pathology


  • Desmin
  • Muscle Proteins