Mutations in the gene encoding the phosphoinositide 3-phosphatase myotubularin (MTM1) are responsible for a pediatric disease of skeletal muscle named myotubular myopathy (XLMTM). Muscle fibers from MTM1-deficient mice present defects in excitation-contraction (EC) coupling likely responsible for the disease-associated fatal muscle weakness. However, the mechanism leading to EC coupling failure remains unclear. During normal skeletal muscle EC coupling, transverse (t) tubule depolarization triggers sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ release through ryanodine receptor channels gated by conformational coupling with the t-tubule voltage-sensing dihydropyridine receptors. We report that MTM1 deficiency is associated with a 60% depression of global SR Ca2+ release over the full range of voltage sensitivity of EC coupling. SR Ca2+ release in the diseased fibers is also slower than in normal fibers, or delayed following voltage activation, consistent with the contribution of Ca2+-gated ryanodine receptors to EC coupling. In addition, we found that SR Ca2+ release is spatially heterogeneous within myotubularin-deficient muscle fibers, with focally defective areas recapitulating the global alterations. Importantly, we found that pharmacological inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PtdIns 3-kinase) activity rescues the Ca2+ release defects in isolated muscle fibers and increases the lifespan and mobility of XLMTM mice, providing proof of concept for the use of PtdIns 3-kinase inhibitors in myotubular myopathy and suggesting that unbalanced PtdIns 3-kinase activity plays a critical role in the pathological process.
Keywords: excitation–contraction coupling; myotubularin; ryanodine receptor; sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release; skeletal muscle.