Nebulin: big protein with big responsibilities

Michaela Yuen, Coen A.C. Ottenheijm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Nebulin, encoded by NEB, is a giant skeletal muscle protein of about 6669 amino acids which forms an integral part of the sarcomeric thin filament. In recent years, the nebula around this protein has been largely lifted resulting in the discovery that nebulin is critical for a number of tasks in skeletal muscle. In this review, we firstly discussed nebulin’s role as a structural component of the thin filament and the Z-disk, regulating the length and the mechanical properties of the thin filament as well as providing stability to myofibrils by interacting with structural proteins within the Z-disk. Secondly, we reviewed nebulin’s involvement in the regulation of muscle contraction, cross-bridge cycling kinetics, Ca2+-homeostasis and excitation contraction (EC) coupling. While its role in Ca2+-homeostasis and EC coupling is still poorly understood, a large number of studies have helped to improve our knowledge on how nebulin affects skeletal muscle contractile mechanics. These studies suggest that nebulin affects the number of force generating actin-myosin cross-bridges and may also affect the force that each cross-bridge produces. It may exert this effect by interacting directly with actin and myosin and/or indirectly by potentially changing the localisation and function of the regulatory complex (troponin and tropomyosin). Besides unravelling the biology of nebulin, these studies are particularly helpful in understanding the patho-mechanism of myopathies caused by NEB mutations, providing knowledge which constitutes the critical first step towards the development of therapeutic interventions. Currently, effective treatments are not available, although a number of therapeutic strategies are being investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-124
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Muscle Research and Cell Motility
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Actin
  • Cross-bridge cycling
  • Nebulin
  • Nemaline myopathy
  • Thin filament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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