Neuromuscular and Cardiovascular Cell Biology, Max-DelbrÃƒÂ¼ck-Center for Molecular Medicine, D-13125 Berlin-Buch, Germany.
Titin, the largest protein known to date, has been linked to sarcomere assembly and function through its elastic adaptor and signaling domains. Titin's M-line region contains a unique kinase domain that has been proposed to regulate sarcomere assembly via its substrate titin cap (T-cap). In this study, we use a titin M line-deficient mouse to show that the initial assembly of the sarcomere does not depend on titin's M-line region or the phosphorylation of T-cap by the titin kinase. Rather, titin's M-line region is required to form a continuous titin filament and to provide mechanical stability of the embryonic sarcomere. Even without titin integrating into the M band, sarcomeres show proper spacing and alignment of Z discs and M bands but fail to grow laterally and ultimately disassemble. The comparison of disassembly in the developing and mature knockout sarcomere suggests diverse functions for titin's M line in embryonic development and the adult heart that not only involve the differential expression of titin isoforms but also of titin-binding proteins.