Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a leading cause of heart failure and a major indicator for heart transplant. Human genetic studies have identified over a thousand causal mutations for DCM in genes involved in a variety of cellular processes, including sarcomeric contraction. A substantial clinical challenge is determining the pathogenicity of novel variants in disease-associated genes. This challenge of connecting genotype and phenotype has frustrated attempts to develop effective, mechanism-based treatments for patients. Here, we identified a de novo mutation (T237S) in TPM1, the gene that encodes the thin filament protein tropomyosin, in a patient with DCM and conducted in vitro experiments to characterize the pathogenicity of this novel variant. We expressed recombinant mutant protein, reconstituted it into thin filaments, and examined the effects of the mutation on thin filament function. We show that the mutation reduces the calcium sensitivity of thin filament activation, as previously seen for known pathogenic mutations. Mechanistically, this shift is due to mutation-induced changes in tropomyosin positioning along the thin filament. We demonstrate that the thin filament activator omecamtiv mecarbil restores the calcium sensitivity of thin filaments regulated by the mutant tropomyosin, which lays the foundation for additional experiments to explore the therapeutic potential of this drug for patients harboring the T237S mutation. Taken together, our results suggest that the TPM1 T237S mutation is likely pathogenic and demonstrate how functional in vitro characterization of pathogenic protein variants in the lab might guide precision medicine in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Biophysics
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Molecular mechanism
  • Precision medicine
  • Tropomyosin


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