Lehnart SE, Wehrens XHT
Physiol Rev. 2022 Jan 10.
Junctophilins (JPHs) comprise a family of structural proteins that connect the plasma membrane to intracellular organelles such as the endo/sarcoplasmic reticulum. Tethering of these membrane structures results in the formation of highly organized subcellular junctions that play important signaling roles in all excitable cell types. There are four JPH isoforms, expressed primarily in muscle and neuronal cell types. Each JPH protein consists of 6 ‘membrane occupation and recognition nexus’ (MORN) motifs, a joining region connecting these to another set of 2 MORN motifs, a putative alpha-helical region, a divergent region exhibiting low homology between JPH isoforms, and a carboxy-terminal transmembrane region anchoring into the ER/SR membrane. JPH isoforms play essential roles in developing and maintaining subcellular membrane junctions. Conversely, inherited mutations in JPH2 cause hypertrophic or dilated cardiomyopathy, while trinucleotide expansions in the JPH3 gene cause Huntington Disease-Like 2. Loss of JPH1 protein levels can cause skeletal myopathy, while loss of cardiac JPH2 levels causes heart failure and atrial fibrillation, among other disease. This review will provide a comprehensive overview of the JPH gene family, phylogeny, and evolutionary analysis of JPH genes and other MORN domain proteins. JPH biogenesis, membrane tethering, and binding partners will be discussed, as well as functional roles of JPH isoforms in excitable cells. Finally, potential roles of JPH isoform deficits in human disease pathogenesis will be reviewed.