Investigating the role of DDX27 on cardiac muscle structure and function in zebrafish
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Cardiomyopathies are the most common form of genetic disorders featuring primary abnormalities in the structure and function of the heart. Over the past few decades, tremendous progress has been made in elucidating the genetic basis of cardiac disorders. However, the development of specific and effective therapies remains largely limited due to the lack of suitable therapeutic targets. Nucleoli are polyfunctional subnuclear domains that are heavily involved in ribosomal RNA production. Recent studies have identified nucleolar structure perturbations and functional defects associated with different types of cardiomyopathies. Additionally, several mutations have been identified in several ribosomal genes that are linked to cardiomyopathy in human patients. We previously identified a nucleolar DEAD-box RNA helicase, DDX27, as a critical regulator of myogenesis. This study aimed to investigate the role of ddx27 deficiency in cardiac muscle and expand the understanding of DDX27 mediated pathways that are involved in myopathies. In this study, we used zebrafish models to investigate ddx27 deficiency in cardiac muscle. Phenotype characterization, cardiac function testing, transmission electron microscopy and histological analysis of ddx27 mutants revealed corresponding dilated cardiomyopathy and skeletal muscle hypotrophy. Furthermore, knockdown of DDX27 ortholog, Rs1, in cardiac muscle was fatal for Drosophila larvae. However, other tissues (i.e., neural or gastrointestinal) were unaffected suggesting that abnormalities caused by Ddx27 deficiency are specific to cardiac and skeletal muscle. Immunofluorescence, northern blotting and polysomal profiling of ddx27 zebrafish myofibers revealed that DDX27 is necessary for preserving nucleolar architecture and ribosome biogenesis. Here we have shown that DDX27 is essential for normal function of cardiac and skeletal myogenic processes due to its critical role in ribosomal regulation. Additionally, we provide novel evidence for DdX27 deficiency contributing to dilated cardiomyopathy. Overall, the findings of this study provide further evidence for the role of RNA helicases, specifically DDX27, in cardiac and skeletal muscle pathogenesis as well as provide novel insight into the molecular pathways of therapeutic benefit for afflicted patients of these diseases.