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Developmentally regulated switching of titin size alters myofibrillar stiffness in the perinatal heart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Christiane A Opitz
  • Mark C Leake
  • Irina Makarenko
  • Vladimir Benes
  • Wolfgang A Linke


Publication details

JournalCirculation Research
DatePublished - 16 Apr 2004
Issue number7
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)967-75
Original languageEnglish


Before birth, the compliance of the heart is limited predominantly by extracardiac constraint. Reduction of this constraint at birth requires that myocardial compliance be determined mainly by the heart's own constituents. Because titin is a principal contributor to ventricular passive tension (PT), we studied the expression and mechanics of cardiac-titin isoforms during perinatal rat heart development. Gel electrophoresis and immunoblotting revealed a single, 3.7-MDa, N2BA isoform present 6 days before birth and an additional, also previously unknown, N2BA isoform of 3.5 to 3.6 MDa expressed in the near-term fetus. These large isoforms rapidly disappear after birth and are replaced by a small N2B isoform (3.0 MDa) predominating in 1-week-old and adult rats. In addition, neonatal pig hearts showed large N2BA-titin isoforms distinct from those present in the adult porcine myocardium. By quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, developmentally expressed titin-mRNA species were detected in rat heart. Titin-based PT was much lower (approximately 15 times) in fetal than adult rat cardiomyocytes, and measured PT levels were readily predictable with a model of worm-like chain titin elasticity. Immunofluorescence microscopy showed the extensibility of the differentially spliced molecular spring regions of fetal/neonatal titin isoforms in isolated rat cardiomyofibrils. Whereas the titin-isoform shift by 700 kDa ensures high passive stiffness of the postnatal cardiac myofibrils, the expression of specific fetal/neonatal cardiac-titin isoforms may also have important functions for contractile properties, myofibril assembly or turnover, and myocardial signaling during perinatal heart development.

    Research areas

  • Alternative Splicing, Animals, Animals, Newborn, Compliance, Connectin, Female, Fetal Heart, Fetal Proteins, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Heart, Male, Molecular Weight, Muscle Proteins, Myofibrils, Pregnancy, Protein Isoforms, Protein Kinases, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Sarcomeres, Swine

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