Tragedy in a heartbeat: malfunctioning desmin causes skeletal and cardiac muscle disease

J Clin Invest. 2009 Jul;119(7):1806-13. doi: 10.1172/JCI38027. Epub 2009 Jul 1.


Muscle fiber deterioration resulting in progressive skeletal muscle weakness, heart failure, and respiratory distress occurs in more than 20 inherited myopathies. As discussed in this Review, one of the newly identified myopathies is desminopathy, a disease caused by dysfunctional mutations in desmin, a type III intermediate filament protein, or alphaB-crystallin, a chaperone for desmin. The range of clinical manifestations in patients with desminopathy is wide and may overlap with those observed in individuals with other myopathies. Awareness of this disease needs to be heightened, diagnostic criteria reliably outlined, and molecular testing readily available; this would ensure prevention of sudden death from cardiac arrhythmias and other complications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology*
  • Cardiomyopathies / therapy
  • Desmin / chemistry
  • Desmin / genetics
  • Desmin / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Muscular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Muscular Diseases / etiology*
  • Muscular Diseases / therapy
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • alpha-Crystallin B Chain / genetics


  • CRYAB protein, human
  • Desmin
  • alpha-Crystallin B Chain