Dominant mutations in the HSP70 co-chaperone DNAJB6 cause a late onset muscle disease termed limb girdle muscular dystrophy type D1 (LGMDD1), which is characterized by protein aggregation and vacuolar myopathology. Disease mutations reside within the G/F domain of DNAJB6, but the molecular mechanisms underlying dysfunction are not well understood. Using yeast, cell culture, and mouse models of LGMDD1, we found that the toxicity associated with disease-associated DNAJB6 required its interaction with HSP70, and that abrogating this interaction genetically or with small molecules was protective. In skeletal muscle, DNAJB6 localizes to the Z-disc with HSP70. Whereas HSP70 normally diffused rapidly between the Z-disc and sarcoplasm, the rate of HSP70’s diffusion in LGMDD1 mouse muscle was diminished likely because it has an unusual affinity for the Z-disc and mutant DNAJB6. Treating LGMDD1 mice with a small molecule inhibitor of the DNAJ-HSP70 complex re-mobilized HSP70, improved strength and corrected myopathology. These data support a model in which LGMDD1 mutations in DNAJB6 are a gain-of-function disease that is, counter-intuitively, mediated via HSP70 binding. Thus, therapeutic approaches targeting HSP70:DNAJB6 may be effective in treating this inherited muscular dystrophy.
Rocio Bengoechea, Andrew R. Findlay, Ankan K. Bhadra, Hao Shao, Kevin C. Stein, Sara K. Pittman, Jill Daw, Jason E. Gestwicki, Heather L. True, Conrad C. Weihl