Genetic cardiomyopathies have been studied for decades, and it has become increasingly clear that these progressive diseases are more complex than originally thought. These complexities can be seen both in the molecular etiologies of these disorders and in the clinical phenotypes observed in patients. While these disorders can be caused by mutations in cardiac genes, including ones encoding sarcomeric proteins, the disease presentation varies depending on the patient mutation, where mutations even within the same gene can cause divergent phenotypes. Moreover, it is challenging to connect the mutation-induced molecular insult that drives the disease pathogenesis with the various compensatory and maladaptive pathways that are activated during the course of the subsequent progressive, pathogenic cardiac remodeling. These inherent complexities have frustrated our ability to understand and develop broadly effective treatments for these disorders. It has been proposed that it might be possible to improve patient outcomes by adopting a precision medicine approach. Here, we lay out a practical framework for such an approach, where patient subpopulations are binned based on common underlying biophysical mechanisms that drive the molecular disease pathogenesis, and we propose that this function-based approach will enable the development of targeted therapeutics that ameliorate these effects. We highlight several mutations to illustrate the need for mechanistic molecular experiments that span organizational and temporal scales, and we describe recent advances in the development of novel therapeutics based on functional targets. Finally, we describe many of the outstanding questions for the field and how fundamental mechanistic studies, informed by our more nuanced understanding of the clinical disorders, will play a central role in realizing the potential of precision medicine for genetic cardiomyopathies.
Complexity in genetic cardiomyopathies and new approaches for mechanism-based precision medicine
This work is part of a special collection on myofilament function and disease.
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Michael J. Greenberg, Jil C. Tardiff; Complexity in genetic cardiomyopathies and new approaches for mechanism-based precision medicine. J Gen Physiol 1 March 2021; 153 (3): e202012662. doi: https://doi.org/10.1085/jgp.202012662
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