BACKGROUND: The authors recently described a new autosomal dominant myopathy (OMIM 605637 inclusion body myopathy 3) associated with a missense mutation in the myosin heavy chain (MyHC) IIa gene (MyHC IIa, Human Gene Map [HGM] locus MYH2). Young patients showed minor changes in their muscle biopsies, although dystrophic alterations and rimmed vacuoles with 15- to 20-nm tubulofilaments identical to those in sporadic inclusion body myositis (s-IBM) were observed in some of the adult (especially older) patients. The current study was undertaken to investigate the relation between expression of the mutant MyHC IIa and pathologic changes in muscle.
METHODS: The expression of MyHC IIa in nine muscle specimens from six individuals carrying the mutation was analyzed by immunohistochemistry, sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and a new reverse transcriptase--PCR method to measure the relative abundance of the various MyHC transcripts.
RESULTS: Young patients with muscle weakness and minor pathologic changes in muscle expressed MyHC IIa at undetectable levels. MyHC IIa was expressed at high levels in adults with a progressive clinical course and dystrophic muscle changes. In these cases, a large number of muscle fibers were hybrids with expression of more than one MyHC isoform. Both MyHC IIa alleles were equally expressed. The relative level of MyHC IIa transcripts exceeded that of the corresponding protein, indicating an increased turnover of mutated protein. MyHC IIa expression was a consistent finding in muscle fibers with rimmed vacuoles.
CONCLUSIONS: The clear correlation between pathologic changes and expression of MyHC IIa indicates that defects in MyHC may lead not only to muscle weakness but also to muscle degeneration. The consistent expression of MyHC IIa in muscle fibers with rimmed vacuoles indicates that the breakdown of sarcomeric proteins is a key element in the pathogenesis of rimmed vacuoles of s-IBM type.
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2002. Vol. 58, no 5, 780-786 p.