Mutations in the extreme C-terminus of titin (TTN), situated in the sarcomeric M-band, cause tibial muscular dystrophy (TMD) and limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 2J (LGMD2J). The mutations ultimately cause a loss of C-terminal titin, including a binding site for the protease calpain 3 (CAPN3), and lead to a secondary CAPN3 deficiency in LGMD2J muscle. CAPN3 has been previously shown to bind C-terminal titin and to use it as a substrate in vitro. Interestingly, mutations in CAPN3 underlie limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 2A (LGMD2A). Here, we aimed to clarify the relationship of CAPN3 and M-band titin in normal and pathological muscle. In vitro analyses identified several CAPN3 cleavage sites in C-terminal titin that were defined by protein sequencing. Furthermore, cleavage products were detected in normal muscle extracts by western blotting and in situ by immunofluorescence microscopy. The TMD/LGMD2J mutation FINmaj proved to alter this processing in vitro, while binding of CAPN3 to mutant titin was preserved. Unexpectedly, the pathological loss of M-band titin due to TMD/LGMD2J mutations was found to be independent of CAPN3, whereas the involvement of ubiquitous calpains is likely. We conclude that proteolytic processing of C-terminal titin by CAPN3 may have an important role in normal muscle, and that this process is disrupted in LGMD2A and in TMD/LGMD2J due to CAPN3 deficiency and to the loss of C-terminal titin, respectively.
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