In Caenorhabditis elegans, unc-89 encodes a set of giant multi-domain proteins (up 8081 residues) localized to the M-lines of muscle sarcomeres and required for normal sarcomere organization and whole-animal locomotion. Multiple UNC-89 isoforms contain two protein kinase domains. There is conservation in arrangement of domains between UNC-89 and its two mammalian homologs, obscurin and SPEG: kinase, a non-domain region of 647–742 residues, Ig domain, Fn3 domain and a second kinase domain. In all three proteins, this non-domain “interkinase region” has low sequence complexity, has high proline content, and lacks predicted secondary structure. We report that a major portion of this interkinase (571 residues out of 647 residues) when examined by single molecule force spectroscopy in vitro displays the properties of a random coil and acts as an entropic spring. We used CRISPR/Cas9 to create nematodes carrying an in-frame deletion of the same 571-residue portion of the interkinase. These animals display severe disorganization of all portions of the sarcomere in body wall muscle. Super-resolution microscopy reveals extra, short-A-bands lying close to the outer muscle cell membrane and between normally spaced A-bands. Nematodes with this in-frame deletion show defective locomotion and muscle force generation. We designed our CRISPR-generatedin-frame deletion to contain an HA tag at the N terminus of the large UNC-89 isoforms. This HA tag results in normal organization of body wall muscle, but approximately half the normal levels of the giant UNC-89 isoforms, dis-organization of pharyngeal muscle, small body size, and reduced muscle force, likely due to poor nutritional uptake.
- C. elegans
- giant polypeptides