Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy (ACM) is a disorder characterized by a progressive ventricular myocardial replacement by fat and fibrosis, which lead to ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. Mutations in the desmosomal gene Plakophilin-2 (PKP2) accounts for >40% of all known mutations, generally causing a truncated protein. In a PKP2-truncated mouse model, we hypothesize that content of transgene, endurance training and aging will be determinant in disease progression. In addition, we investigated the molecular defects associated with the phenotype in this model. We developed a transgenic mouse model containing a truncated PKP2 (PKP2-Ser329) and generated three transgenic lines expressing increasing transgene content. The pathophysiological features of ACM in this model were assessed. While we did not observe fibro-fatty replacement, ultrastructural defects were exhibited. Moreover, we observed transgene content-dependent development of structural (ventricle dilatation and dysfunction) and electrophysiological anomalies in mice (PR interval and QRS prolongation and arrhythmia induction). In concordance with pathological defects, we detected a content reduction and remodeling of the structural proteins Desmocollin-2, Plakoglobin, native Plakophilin-2, Desmin and β-Catenin as well as the electrical coupling proteins Connexin 43 and cardiac sodium channel (Nav1.5). Surprisingly, we observed structural but not electrophysiological abnormalities only in trained and old mice. We demonstrated that truncated PKP2 provokes ACM in the absence of fibro-fatty replacement in the mouse. Transgene dose is essential to reveal the pathology, whereas aging and endurance training trigger limited phenotype. Molecular abnormalities underlay the structural and electrophysiological defects.

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