Alterations of redox dynamics and desmin post-translational modifications in skeletal muscle models of desminopathies

Exp Cell Res. 2019 Oct 15;383(2):111539. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2019.111539. Epub 2019 Jul 29.


Desminopathies are a type of myofibrillar myopathy resulting from mutations in DES, encoding the intermediate filament protein desmin. They display heterogeneous phenotypes, suggesting environment influences. Patient muscle proteins show oxidative features linking oxidative stress, protein aggregation, and abnormal protein deposition. To improve understanding of redox balance in desminopathies, we further developed cellular models of four pathological mutants localized in 2B helical domain (the most important region for desmin polymerization) to explore desmin behavior upon oxidative stress. We show that the mutations desQ389P and desD399Y share common stress-induced aggregates, desR406W presents more scattered cytoplasmic aggregative pattern, and pretreatment with N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), an antioxidant molecule, prevents all type of aggregation. Mutants desD399Y and desR406W had delayed oxidation kinetics following H2O2 stress prevented by NAC pretreatment. Further, we used AAV-injected mouse models to confirm in vivo effects of N-acetyl-l-cysteine. AAV-desD399Y-injected muscles displayed similar physio-pathological characteristics as observed in patients. However, after 2 months of NAC treatment, they did not have reduced aggregates. Finally, in both models, stress induced some post-translational modifications changing Isoelectric Point, such as potential hyperphosphorylations, and/or molecular weight of human desmin by proteolysis. However, each mutant presented its own pattern that seemed to be post-aggregative. In conclusion, our results indicate that individual desmin mutations have unique pathological molecular mechanisms partly linked to alteration of redox homeostasis. Integrating these mutant-specific behaviors will be important when considering future therapeutics.

Keywords: Aggregation; Desmin; Intermediate filaments; Myopathies; N-Acetyl-l-cysteine; Oxidative stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Cardiomyopathies / genetics*
  • Cardiomyopathies / metabolism*
  • Cardiomyopathies / pathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Desmin* / genetics
  • Desmin* / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Homeostasis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscular Dystrophies / genetics*
  • Muscular Dystrophies / metabolism*
  • Muscular Dystrophies / pathology
  • Mutant Proteins / genetics
  • Mutant Proteins / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction*
  • Oxidative Stress / genetics
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / genetics


  • Antioxidants
  • Desmin
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Mutant Proteins

Supplementary concepts

  • Myopathy, Myofibrillar, Desmin-Related