Novel Desmin Mutation p.Glu401Asp Impairs Filament Formation, Disrupts Cell Membrane Integrity, and Causes Severe Arrhythmogenic Left Ventricular Cardiomyopathy/Dysplasia

Circulation. 2018 Apr 10;137(15):1595-1610. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.028719. Epub 2017 Dec 6.


Background: Desmin (DES) mutations cause severe skeletal and cardiac muscle disease with heterogeneous phenotypes. Recently, DES mutations were described in patients with inherited arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy/dysplasia, although their cellular and molecular pathomechanisms are not precisely known. Our aim is to describe clinically and functionally the novel DES-p.Glu401Asp mutation as a cause of inherited left ventricular arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy/dysplasia.

Methods: We identified the novel DES mutation p.Glu401Asp in a large Spanish family with inherited left ventricular arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy/dysplasia and a high incidence of adverse cardiac events. A full clinical evaluation was performed on all mutation carriers and noncarriers to establish clinical and genetic cosegregation. In addition, desmin, and intercalar disc-related proteins expression were histologically analyzed in explanted cardiac tissue affected by the DES mutation. Furthermore, mesenchymal stem cells were isolated and cultured from 2 family members with the DES mutation (1 with mild and 1 with severe symptomatology) and a member without the mutation (control) and differentiated ex vivo to cardiomyocytes. Then, important genes related to cardiac differentiation and function were analyzed by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Finally, the p.Glu401Asp mutated DES gene was transfected into cell lines and analyzed by confocal microscopy.

Results: Of the 66 family members screened for the DES-p.Glu401Asp mutation, 23 of them were positive, 6 were obligate carriers, and 2 were likely carriers. One hundred percent of genotype-positive patients presented data consistent with inherited arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy/dysplasia phenotype with variable disease severity expression, high-incidence of sudden cardiac death, and absence of skeletal myopathy or conduction system disorders. Immunohistochemistry was compatible with inherited arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy/dysplasia, and the functional study showed an abnormal growth pattern and cellular adhesion, reduced desmin RNA expression, and some other membrane proteins, as well, and desmin aggregates in transfected cells expressing the mutant desmin.

Conclusions: The DES-p.Glu401Asp mutation causes predominant inherited left ventricular arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy/dysplasia with a high incidence of adverse clinical events in the absence of skeletal myopathy or conduction system disorders. The pathogenic mechanism probably corresponds to an alteration in desmin dimer and oligomer assembly and its connection with membrane proteins within the intercalated disc.

Keywords: arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia; desmin; mutation; myopathy, myofibrillar, desmin-related; ventricular fibrillation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / genetics*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathies / genetics*
  • Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Desmin / genetics*
  • Desmin / metabolism
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnosis
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / genetics*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / physiopathology
  • Heart Ventricles / abnormalities*
  • Heart Ventricles / metabolism
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Heredity
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / pathology
  • Pedigree
  • Phenotype
  • Spain
  • Young Adult


  • Desmin