The mechanisms responsible for maintaining macromolecular protein complexes, with their proper localization and subunit stoichiometry, are incompletely understood. Here we studied the maintenance of the sarcomere, the basic contractile macromolecular complex of cardiomyocytes. We performed single-cell analysis of cardiomyocytes using imaging of mRNA and protein synthesis, and demonstrate that three distinct mechanisms are responsible for the maintenance of the sarcomere: mRNAs encoding for sarcomeric proteins are localized to the sarcomere, ribosomes are localized to the sarcomere with localized sarcomeric protein translation, and finally, a localized E3 ubiquitin ligase allow efficient degradation of excess unincorporated sarcomeric proteins. We show that these mechanisms are distinct, required, and work in unison, to ensure both spatial localization, and to overcome the large variability in transcription. Cardiomyocytes simultaneously maintain all their sarcomeres using localized translation and degradation processes where proteins are continuously and locally synthesized at high rates, and excess proteins are continuously degraded.
Keywords: Localized synthesis; Sarcomere; Ubiquitin proteasome; mRNA localization.
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