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Abstract

Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain not well understood. Cardiomyopathies are primary diseases of the heart muscle and contribute to high rates of heart failure and sudden cardiac deaths. Here, we distinguished four different genetic cardiomyopathies based on gene expression signatures. In this study, RNA-Sequencing was used to identify gene expression signatures in myocardial tissue of cardiomyopathy patients in comparison to non-failing human hearts. Therefore, expression differences between patients with specific affected genes, namely LMNA (lamin A/C), RBM20 (RNA binding motif protein 20), TTN (titin) and PKP2 (plakophilin 2) were investigated. We identified genotype-specific differences in regulated pathways, Gene Ontology (GO) terms as well as gene groups like secreted or regulatory proteins and potential candidate drug targets revealing specific molecular pathomechanisms for the four subtypes of genetic cardiomyopathies. Some regulated pathways are common between patients with mutations in RBM20 and TTN as the splice factor RBM20 targets amongst other genes TTN, leading to a similar response on pathway level, even though many differentially expressed genes (DEGs) still differ between both sample types. The myocardium of patients with mutations in LMNA is widely associated with upregulated genes/pathways involved in immune response, whereas mutations in PKP2 lead to a downregulation of genes of the extracellular matrix. Our results contribute to further understanding of the underlying molecular pathomechanisms aiming for novel and better treatment of genetic cardiomyopathies.