Dominant-negative sarcomere protein gene mutations cause familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (FHC), a disease characterized by left-ventricular hypertrophy, angina, and dyspnea that can result in sudden death. We report here that a murine model of FHC bearing a cardiac myosin heavy-chain gene missense mutation (αMHC403/+), when treated with calcineurin inhibitors or a K+-channel agonist, developed accentuated hypertrophy, worsened histopathology, and was at risk for early death. Despite distinct pharmacologic targets, each agent augmented diastolic Ca2+ concentrations in wild-type cardiac myocytes; αMHC403/+ myocytes failed to respond. Pretreatment with a Ca2+-channel antagonist abrogated diastolic Ca2+ changes in wild-type myocytes and prevented the exaggerated hypertrophic response of treated αMHC403/+ mice. We conclude that FHC-causing sarcomere protein gene mutations cause abnormal Ca2+ responses that initiate a hypertrophic response. These data define an important Ca2+-dependent step in the pathway by which mutant sarcomere proteins trigger myocyte growth and remodel the heart, provide definitive evidence that environment influences progression of FHC, and suggest a rational therapeutic approach to this prevalent human disease.


Diane Fatkin, Bradley K. McConnell, James O. Mudd, Christopher Semsarian, Ivan G.P. Moskowitz, Frederick J. Schoen, Michael Giewat, Christine E. Seidman, J.G. Seidman


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