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Catabolism of Branched-Chain Amino Acids in Heart Failure: Insights from Genetic Models


Genetic defects in amino acid metabolism are major causes of newborn diseases that often lead to abnormal development and function of the central nervous system. Their direct impact on cardiac development and function has rarely been investigated. Recently, the authors have established that a mitochondrial targeted 2C-type ser/thr protein phosphatase, PP2Cm, is the endogenous phosphatase of the branched-chain alpha keto acid-dehydrogenase complex (BCKD) and functions as a key regulator in branched-chain amino acid catabolism and homeostasis. Genetic inactivation of PP2Cm in mice leads to significant elevation in plasma concentrations of branched-chain amino acids and branched-chain keto acids at levels similar to those associated with intermediate mild forms of maple syrup urine disease. In addition to neuronal tissues, PP2Cm is highly expressed in cardiac muscle, and its expression is diminished in a heart under pathologic stresses. Whereas phenotypic features of heart failure are seen in PP2Cm-deficient zebra fish embryos, cardiac function in PP2Cm-null mice is compromised at a young age and deteriorates faster by mechanical overload. These observations suggest that the catabolism of branched-chain amino acids also has physiologic significance in maintaining normal cardiac function. Defects in PP2Cm-mediated catabolism of branched-chain amino acids can be a potential novel mechanism not only for maple syrup urine disease but also for congenital heart diseases and heart failure.

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