Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury and Oxidative Stress Impair Cardiac Desmin Proteostasis

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Though acute mortality by myocardial infarction (MI) has declined in past decades, MI still represents one of the leading causes of heart failure (HF) development. We recently demonstrated the accumulation of toxic desmin aggregates in patients with HF of ischemic origin. Since desmin aggregates are toxic for the heart we aimed to test whether their formation can be induced by oxidative stress as a proxy for reperfusion injury, as well as addressing the effects of therapeutic strategies aimed at reducing desmin aggregation with cardiac oxidative stress.

Methods and Results

We demonstrate here that oxidative stress is able to induce desmin aggregation, acutely, in a cell-specific and dose-dependent fashion. We also show that elevation of O -linked β- N -acetylglucosamine ( O -GlcNAc) prior to or after oxidative stress reduces the formation of toxic desmin aggregates and its pro-aggregating desmin post-translational modifications (PTM). In addition, we show for the first time a role for the transmembrane protease serine 13 (TMPRSS13) with desmin cleavage in response to oxidative stress while desmin’s single cysteine plays a protective role from I/R injury, which is independent of gain or loss of desmin function.


The proliferation of desmin PTM-forms (i.e., proteoforms) and its aggregation hallmark acute and chronic cardiac stress and result in both loss of and gain of desmin function. We report here two novel mechanisms that could be targeted for therapy to preserve desmin homeostasis and cardiac function in the acute settings of oxidative stress and reperfusion injury.

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