Differential expression of cardiac titin isoforms and modulation of cellular stiffness

O. Cazorla, A. Freiburg, M. Helmes, T. Centner, M. McNabb, Y. Wu, K. Trombitás, S. Labeit, Henk Granzier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

332 Scopus citations


Extension of the I-band segment of titin gives rise to part of the diastolic force of cardiac muscle. Previous studies of human cardiac titin transcripts suggested a series of differential splicing events in the I-band segment of titin leading to the so-called N2A and N2B isoform transcripts. Here we investigated titin expression at the protein level in a wide range of mammalian species. Results indicate that the myocardium coexpresses 2 distinct titin isoforms: a smaller isoform containing the N2B element only (N2B titin) and a larger isoform with both the N2B and N2A elements (N2BA titin). The expression ratio of large N2BA to small N2B titin isoforms was found to vary greatly in different species; eg, in the left ventricle the ratio is ≃0.05 in mouse and ≃1.5 in pig. Differences in the expression ratio were also found between atria and ventricles and between different layers of the ventricular wall. Immunofluorescence experiments with isoform- specific antibodies suggest that coexpression of these isoforms takes place at the single-myocyte level. The diastolic properties of single cardiac myocytes isolated from various species expressing high levels of the small (rat and mouse) or large (pig) titin isoform were studied. On average, pig myocytes are significantly less stiff than mouse and rat myocytes. Gel analysis indicates that this result cannot be explained by varying amounts of titin in mouse and pig myocardium. Rather, low stiffness of pig myocytes can be explained by its high expression level of the large isoform: the longer extensible region of this isoform results in a lower fractional extension for a given sarcomere length and hence a lower force. Implications of our findings to cardiac function are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalCirculation research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2000


  • Compliance
  • Connectin
  • Diastolic force
  • Mechanical properties
  • Myocyte
  • Passive tension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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