Drug discovery for heart failure targeting myosin-binding protein C

Thomas A. Bunch, Piyali Guhathakurta, Andrew R. Thompson, Victoria C. Lepak, Anna L. Carter, Jennifer J. Thomas, David D. Thomas, Brett A. Colson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Cardiac MyBP-C (cMyBP-C) interacts with actin and myosin to fine-tune cardiac muscle contractility. Phosphorylation of cMyBP-C, which reduces the binding of cMyBP-C to actin and myosin, is often decreased in patients with heart failure (HF) and is cardioprotective in model systems of HF. Therefore, cMyBP-C is a potential target for HF drugs that mimic its phosphorylation and/or perturb its interactions with actin or myosin. We labeled actin with fluorescein-5-maleimide (FMAL) and the C0-C2 fragment of cMyBP-C (cC0-C2) with tetramethylrhodamine (TMR). We performed two complementary high-throughput screens (HTS) on an FDA-approved drug library, to discover small molecules that specifically bind to cMyBP-C and affect its interactions with actin or myosin, using fluorescence lifetime (FLT) detection. We first excited FMAL and detected its FLT, to measure changes in fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) from FMAL (donor) to TMR (acceptor), indicating binding. Using the same samples, we then excited TMR directly, using a longer wavelength laser, to detect the effects of compounds on the environmentally sensitive FLT of TMR, to identify compounds that bind directly to cC0-C2. Secondary assays, performed on selected modulators with the most promising effects in the primary HTS assays, characterized the specificity of these compounds for phosphorylated versus unphosphorylated cC0-C2 and for cC0-C2 versus C1-C2 of fast skeletal muscle (fC1-C2). A subset of identified compounds modulated ATPase activity in cardiac and/or skeletal myofibrils. These assays establish the feasibility of the discovery of small-molecule modulators of the cMyBP-C-actin/myosin interaction, with the ultimate goal of developing therapies for HF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105369
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • actin
  • cardiac muscle
  • cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyBP-C)
  • contractile proteins
  • fluorescence lifetime (FLT)
  • fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)
  • high-throughput screen (HTS)
  • phosphorylation
  • protein kinase A (PKA)
  • site-directed spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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