The sarcomeres represent the essential contractile units of the cardiac myocyte and are bordered by two Z-lines (disks) that are made by various proteins. The cardiac Z-disk is recognized as one of the nodal points in cardiomyocyte structural organization, mechano-sensation and signal transduction. Rapid progress in molecular and cellular biology has significantly improved the knowledge about pathogenic mechanisms and signaling pathways involved in the development of inherited cardiomyopathies. Genetic insult resulting in expression of mutated proteins that maintain the structure of the heart can perturb cardiac function. The primary mutation in the cardiac contractile apparatus or other subcellular complexes can lead to cardiac pathology on a tissue level, resulting in organ and organism level pathophysiology. The “final common pathway” hypothesis interpreting the genetic basis and molecular mechanisms involved in the development of cardiomyopathies suggests that mutations in cardiac genes encoding proteins with similar structure, function, or location and operating in the same pathway, are responsible for a particular phenotype of cardiomyopathy with unique morpho-histological remodeling of the heart. This chapter will describe genetic abnormalities of cardiac Z-disk and related “final common pathways” that are triggered by a Z-disk genetic insult leading to heart muscle diseases. In addition, animal models carrying mutations in Z-disk proteins will be described.
Part of the book: Cardiomyopathy