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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry, Volume 45, Issue 6, April 2018, Pages 2174-2186.

The published version is available at Copyright © Zhu et al.


BACKGROUND/AIMS: Pim-1 is a serine/threonine kinase that is highly expressed in the heart, and exerts potent cardiac protective effects through enhancing survival, proliferation, and regeneration of cardiomyocytes. Its myocardial specific substrates, however, remain unknown. In the present study, we aim to investigate whether Pim-1 modulates myofilament activity through phosphorylation of cardiac troponin I (cTnI), a key component in regulating myofilament function in the heart.

METHODS: Coimmunoprecipitation and immunofluorescent assays were employed to investigate the interaction of Pim-1 with cTnI in cardiomyocytes. Biochemical, site directed mutagenesis, and mass spectrometric analyses were utilized to identify the phosphorylation sites of Pim1 in cTnI. Myofilament functional assay using skinned cardiac fiber was used to assess the effect of Pim1-mediated phosphorylation on cardiac myofilament activity. Lastly, the functional significance of Pim1-mediated cTnI in heart disease was determined in diabetic mice.

RESULTS: We found that Pim-1 specifically interacts with cTnI in cardiomyocytes and this interaction leads to Pim1-mediated cTnI phosphorylation, predominantly at Ser23/24 and Ser150. Furthermore, our functional assay demonstrated that Pim-1 induces a robust phosphorylation of cTnI within the troponin complex, thus leading to a decreased Ca2+ sensitivity. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a peptide growth factor that has been shown to stimulate myocardial contractility, markedly induces cTnI phosphorylation at Ser23/24 and Ser150 through increasing Pim-1 expression in cardiomyocytes. In a high-fat diabetic mice model, the expression of Pim1 in the heart is significantly decreased, which is accompanied by a decreased phosphorylation of cTnI at Ser23/24 and Ser150, further implicating the pathological significance of the Pim1/cTnI axis in the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy.

CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate that Pim-1 is a novel kinase that phosphorylates cTnI primarily at Ser23/24 and Ser150 in cardiomyocytes, which in turn may modulate myofilament function under a variety of physiological and pathophysiological conditions.

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