Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a condition characterized by impaired cardiac function, due to myocardial hypo-contractility, and is associated with point mutations in β-cardiac myosin, the molecular motor that powers cardiac contraction. Myocardial function can be modulated through sequestration of myosin motors into an auto-inhibited “super-relaxed” state (SRX), which may be further stabilized by a structural state known as the “interacting heads motif” (IHM). Here, we sought to determine whether hypo-contractility of DCM myocardium results from reduced function of individual myosin molecules or from decreased myosin availability to interact with actin due to increased IHM/SRX stabilization. We used an established DCM myosin mutation, E525K, and characterized the biochemical and mechanical activity of wild-type and mutant human β-cardiac myosin constructs that differed in the length of their coiled-coil tail, which dictates their ability to form the IHM/SRX state. We found that short-tailed myosin constructs exhibited low IHM/SRX content, elevated actin-activated ATPase activity, and fast velocities in unloaded motility assays. Conversely, longer-tailed constructs exhibited higher IHM/SRX content and reduced actomyosin ATPase and velocity. Our modeling suggests that reduced velocities may be attributed to IHM/SRX-dependent sequestration of myosin heads. Interestingly, longer-tailed E525K mutants showed no apparent impact on velocity or actomyosin ATPase at low ionic strength but stabilized IHM/SRX state at higher ionic strength. Therefore, the hypo-contractility observed in DCM may be attributable to reduced myosin head availability caused by enhanced IHM/SRX stability in E525K mutants.

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