Abstract / Description of output
The vertebrate Kindlins are an evolutionarily conserved family of proteins critical for integrin signalling and cell adhesion. Kindlin-2 (KIND2) is associated with intercalated discs in mice, suggesting a role in cardiac syncytium development; however, deficiency of Kind2 leads to embryonic lethality. Morpholino knock-down of Kind2 in zebrafish has a pleiotropic effect on development that includes the heart. It therefore remains unclear whether cardiomyocyte Kind2 expression is required for cardiomyocyte junction formation and the development of normal cardiac function. To address this question, the expression of Fermitin 1 and Fermitin 2 (Fit1, Fit2), the two Drosophila orthologs of Kind2, was silenced in Drosophila cardiomyocytes. Heart development was assessed in adult flies by immunological methods and videomicroscopy. Silencing both Fit1 and Fit2 led to a severe cardiomyopathy characterised by the failure of cardiomyocytes to develop as a functional syncytium and loss of synchrony between cardiomyocytes. A null allele of Fit1 was generated but this had no impact on the heart. Similarly, the silencing of Fit2 failed to affect heart function. In contrast, the silencing of Fit2 in the cardiomyocytes of Fit1 null flies disrupted syncytium development, leading to severe cardiomyopathy. The data definitively demonstrate a role for Fermitins in the development of a functional cardiac syncytium in Drosophila. The findings also show that the Fermitins can functionally compensate for each other in order to control syncytium development. These findings support the concept that abnormalities in cardiomyocyte KIND2 expression or function may contribute to cardiomyopathies in humans.