A sarcomere is the contractile unit of the myofibril in striated muscles such as cardiac and skeletal muscles. The assembly of sarcomeres depends on multiple molecules that serve as raw materials and participate in the assembly process. However, the mechanism of this critical assembly process remains largely unknown. Here, we found that the cell fate determinant Numb and its homolog Numblike regulated sarcomere assembly and maintenance in striated muscles. We discovered that Numb and Numblike are sarcomeric molecules that were gradually confined to the Z-disc during striated muscle development. Conditional knockout of Numb and Numblike severely compromised sarcomere assembly and its integrity and thus caused organelle dysfunction. Notably, we identified that Numb and Numblike served as sarcomeric α-Actin–binding proteins (ABPs) and shared a conserved domain that can bind to the barbed end of sarcomeric α-Actin. In vitro fluorometric α-Actin polymerization assay showed that Numb and Numblike also played a role in the sarcomeric α-Actin polymerization process. Last, we demonstrate that Numb and Numblike regulate sarcomeric α-Actinin–dependent (ACTN-dependent) Z-disc consolidation in the sarcomere assembly and maintenance. In summary, our studies show that Numb and its homolog Numblike regulate sarcomere assembly and maintenance in striated muscles, and demonstrate a molecular mechanism by which Numb/Numblike, sarcomeric α-Actin, and ACTN cooperate to control thin filament formation and Z-disc consolidation.
Baolei Wang, Min Yang, Shujuan Li
A schematic illustration of how Numb and Numblike regulate sarcomere assembly and maintenance.