Successful knock-in of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy-mutation R723G into the MYH7 gene mimics HCM pathology in pigs.
Familial Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common inherited cardiac disease. About 30% of the patients are heterozygous for mutations in the MYH7 gene encoding the ß-myosin heavy chain (MyHC). Hallmarks of HCM are cardiomyocyte disarray and hypertrophy of the left ventricle, the symptoms range from slight arrhythmias to sudden cardiac death or heart failure. To gain insight into the underlying mechanisms of the diseases' etiology we aimed to generate genome edited pigs with an HCM-mutation. We used TALEN-mediated genome editing and successfully introduced the HCM-point mutation R723G into the MYH7 gene of porcine fibroblasts and subsequently cloned pigs that were heterozygous for the HCM-mutation R723G. No off-target effects were determined in the R723G-pigs. Surprisingly, the animals died within 24 h post partem, probably due to heart failure as indicated by a shift in the a/ß-MyHC ratio in the left ventricle. Most interestingly, the neonatal pigs displayed features of HCM, including mild myocyte disarray, malformed nuclei, and MYH7-overexpression. The finding of HCM-specific pathology in neonatal R723G-piglets suggests a very early onset of the disease and highlights the importance of novel large animal models for studying causative mechanisms and long-term progression of human cardiac diseases.