Detection and functional characterization of a novel MEF2A variation responsible for familial dilated cardiomyopathy

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2020 Dec 3;59(5):955-963. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2020-1318. Print 2021 Apr 27.


Objectives: Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) represents the most frequent form of cardiomyopathy, leading to heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias and death. Accumulating evidence convincingly demonstrates the crucial role of genetic defects in the pathogenesis of DCM, and over 100 culprit genes have been implicated with DCM. However, DCM is of substantial genetic heterogeneity, and the genetic determinants underpinning DCM remain largely elusive.

Methods: Whole-exome sequencing and bioinformatical analyses were implemented in a consanguineous Chinese family with DCM. A total of 380 clinically annotated control individuals and 166 more DCM index cases then underwent Sanger sequencing analysis for the identified genetic variation. The functional characteristics of the variant were delineated by utilizing a dual-luciferase assay system.

Results: A heterozygous variation in the MEF2A gene (encoding myocyte enhancer factor 2A, a transcription factor pivotal for embryonic cardiogenesis and postnatal cardiac adaptation), NM_001365204.1: c.718G>T; p. (Gly240*), was identified, and verified by Sanger sequencing to segregate with autosome-dominant DCM in the family with complete penetrance. The nonsense variation was neither detected in 760 control chromosomes nor found in 166 more DCM probands. Functional analyses revealed that the variant lost transactivation on the validated target genes MYH6 and FHL2, both causally linked to DCM. Furthermore, the variation nullified the synergistic activation between MEF2A and GATA4, another key transcription factor involved in DCM.

Conclusions: The findings firstly indicate that MEF2A loss-of-function variation predisposes to DCM in humans, providing novel insight into the molecular mechanisms of DCM and suggesting potential implications for genetic testing and prognostic evaluation of DCM patients.

Keywords: MEF2A; cardiomyopathy; genetics; luciferase assay; transcriptional factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated* / genetics
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins
  • MEF2 Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Pedigree
  • Transcription Factors


  • FHL2 protein, human
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins
  • MEF2 Transcription Factors
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Transcription Factors

Supplementary concepts

  • Familial dilated cardiomyopathy