Reviewed May 2014
What is the official name of the CAV3 gene?
The official name of this gene is “caveolin 3.”
CAV3 is the gene's official symbol. The CAV3 gene is also known by other names, listed below.
Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.
What is the normal function of the CAV3 gene?
The CAV3 gene provides instructions for making a protein called caveolin-3, which is found in the membrane surrounding muscle cells. This protein is the main component of caveolae, which are small pouches in the muscle cell membrane. Within the caveolae, the caveolin-3 protein acts as a scaffold to organize other molecules that are important for cell signaling and maintenance of the cell structure. These molecules include the proteins that make up sodium channels, which transport positively charged sodium atoms (sodium ions) into cells. Sodium channels play a key role in a cell's ability to generate and transmit electrical signals. In cardiac muscle, sodium channels are involved in maintaining the heart's normal rhythm. Caveolin-3 may also help regulate calcium levels in the muscle cell, which control muscle contraction and relaxation.
How are changes in the CAV3 gene related to health conditions?
CAV3-related distal myopathy - caused by mutations in the CAV3 gene
At least two CAV3 gene mutations have been identified in people with distal myopathy, a disorder characterized by weakness and loss of function mainly affecting the muscles farthest from the center of the body (distal muscles), such as those of the hands and feet. Mutations that cause CAV3-related distal myopathy result in a shortage of caveolin-3 protein in the muscle cell membrane and a reduction in the number of caveolae. Researchers suggest that a shortage of caveolae impairs the structural integrity of muscle cells, interferes with cell signaling, and causes the self-destruction of cells (apoptosis). The resulting breakdown of muscle tissue leads to the signs and symptoms of CAV3-related distal myopathy.
isolated hyperCKemia - caused by mutations in the CAV3 gene
At least four CAV3 gene mutations have been identified in individuals with isolated hyperCKemia. People with this condition have elevated levels of an enzyme called creatine kinase in the blood. Creatine kinase is released into the blood when muscle cells are damaged; however, people with isolated hyperCKemia have no muscle weakness or other symptoms of muscle disease. CAV3 gene mutations that cause isolated hyperCKemia lead to a caveolin-3 shortage that likely damages muscle cells. Although the damage is not severe enough to cause noticeable symptoms, it may lead to the elevated blood levels of creatine kinase that characterize isolated hyperCKemia.
limb-girdle muscular dystrophy - caused by mutations in the CAV3 gene
More than 20 mutations in the CAV3 gene have been identified in people with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 1C. Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy is a group of related disorders characterized by muscle weakness and wasting, particularly in the shoulders, hips, and limbs.
As in CAV3-related distal myopathy (described above), CAV3 gene mutations that cause limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 1C result in a shortage of caveolin-3 protein that damages muscle tissue, leading to the signs and symptoms of this disorder.
rippling muscle disease - caused by mutations in the CAV3 gene
At least 12 CAV3 gene mutations have been identified in people with rippling muscle disease, a condition in which the muscles are unusually sensitive to movement or pressure (irritable). Affected individuals may have muscle cramps, stiffness, and muscles that appear to ripple when they are stretched.
CAV3 gene mutations that cause rippling muscle disease result in a shortage of caveolin-3 protein in the muscle cell membrane. Researchers suggest that reduced caveolin-3 levels may impair the control of calcium levels in muscle cells, leading to abnormal muscle contractions in response to stimulation.
- other disorders - caused by mutations in the CAV3 gene
CAV3 gene mutations also can cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a thickening of the heart (cardiac) muscle that forces the heart to work harder to pump blood. This condition can lead to heart failure.
When caused by CAV3 gene mutations, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy as well as limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, isolated hyperCKemia, rippling muscle disease, and distal myopathy (all described above) are classified as caveolinopathies. Several CAV3 gene mutations have been found to cause different caveolinopathies in different individuals. It is unclear why a particular CAV3 gene mutation may cause different patterns of signs and symptoms, even within the same family.
Mutations in the CAV3 gene have also been identified in people with long QT syndrome, which is a heart condition that causes the cardiac muscle to take longer than usual to recharge between beats. The irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia) can lead to fainting (syncope) or cardiac arrest and sudden death. Researchers suggest that CAV3 gene mutations may disrupt ion transport through sodium channels located in the caveolae. A disruption in ion transport may alter the way the heart beats, leading to the abnormal heart rhythm characteristic of long QT syndrome.
Where is the CAV3 gene located?
Cytogenetic Location: 3p25
Molecular Location on chromosome 3: base pairs 8,733,800 to 8,746,765
The CAV3 gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 3 at position 25.
More precisely, the CAV3 gene is located from base pair 8,733,800 to base pair 8,746,765 on chromosome 3.
See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.
Where can I find additional information about CAV3?
You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about CAV3 helpful.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.
What other names do people use for the CAV3 gene or gene products?
Where can I find general information about genes?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding CAV3?
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for
professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about
a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified
See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.