Construction of recombinant adenoviruses encoding skeletal troponin C protein and expression analyses in transduced cardiac myocytes
Troponin C is a regulatory protein of the myofilament which binds to calcium to trigger the process of contraction. This protein exists in two isoforms, skeletal and cardiac, which are spatially and temporally regulated. Work in this project builds the primary stage of a long-term project, for using the gene transfer method to overexpress the skeletal isoform of Troponin C in cardiomyocytes. The long-term aim is to achieve complete or partial substitution of the native cardiac isoform and study the effects on contractile force produced, in normal and ischemic cardiomyocytes, both in vitro and in vivo. This project has involved designing, constructing and analyzing expression of adenoviral gene transfer vectors overexpressing the sTnC isoform. Several adenoviral vectors were generated with the wild type sTnC gene under the control of muscle-specific promoters. To facilitate analysis of protein expression and its subcellular localization, the sTnC protein was tagged with epitope tags and adenovirus generated, with this gene under the control of constitutive (CMV) and cardiac-specific (HCA) promoters. Epitope-tagged adenoviruses were expressed in vitro using mouse fibroblast (NIH3T3) cells and analyzed by western blot analysis, showing successful constitutive expression. Recombinant adenoviruses containing epitope-tagged-sTnC under the control of the human cardiac actin promoter showed cardiac-specific expression in cultured cardiomyocytes, in situ, using immunocytochemistry. The constitutively-expressing sTnC adenoviral vector showed successful expression in cardiomyocytes in culture, using northern blot analysis. A range of adenoviral vectors have been successfully generated, and constitutive and tissue-specific expression has been established for some of these vectors. Successes attained in this project have established the initial requirements to achieve the long-term goal to alter calcium sensitivity of myofilaments, by overexpression of sTnC isoform in cardiomyocytes, both in vitro and in vivo.