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AIMS - Loss-of-function mutations in Calsequestrin 2 (CASQ2) are associated with catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT). CPVT patients also exhibit bradycardia and atrial arrhythmias for which the underlying mechanism remains unknown. We aimed to study the sinoatrial node (SAN) dysfunction due to loss of CASQ2.
METHODS AND RESULTS - In vivo electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring, in vitro high-resolution optical mapping, confocal imaging of intracellular Ca(2+) cycling, and 3D atrial immunohistology were performed in wild-type (WT) and Casq2 null (Casq2(-/-)) mice. Casq2(-/-) mice exhibited bradycardia, SAN conduction abnormalities, and beat-to-beat heart rate variability due to enhanced atrial ectopic activity both at baseline and with autonomic stimulation. Loss of CASQ2 increased fibrosis within the pacemaker complex, depressed primary SAN activity, and conduction, but enhanced atrial ectopic activity and atrial fibrillation (AF) associated with macro- and micro-reentry during autonomic stimulation. In SAN myocytes, CASQ2 deficiency induced perturbations in intracellular Ca(2+) cycling, including abnormal Ca(2+) release, periods of significantly elevated diastolic Ca(2+) levels leading to pauses and unstable pacemaker rate. Importantly, Ca(2+) cycling dysfunction occurred not only at the SAN cellular level but was also globally manifested as an increased delay between action potential (AP) and Ca(2+) transient upstrokes throughout the atrial pacemaker complex.
CONCLUSIONS - Loss of CASQ2 causes abnormal sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) release and selective interstitial fibrosis in the atrial pacemaker complex, which disrupt SAN pacemaking but enhance latent pacemaker activity, create conduction abnormalities and increase susceptibility to AF. These functional and extensive structural alterations could contribute to SAN dysfunction as well as AF in CPVT patients.
Published on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved. © The Author 2013. For permissions please email: email@example.com.
Diabetes increases oxidant stress and doubles the risk of dying after myocardial infarction, but the mechanisms underlying increased mortality are unknown. Mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetes developed profound heart rate slowing and doubled mortality compared with controls after myocardial infarction. Oxidized Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (ox-CaMKII) was significantly increased in pacemaker tissues from diabetic patients compared with that in nondiabetic patients after myocardial infarction. Streptozotocin-treated mice had increased pacemaker cell ox-CaMKII and apoptosis, which were further enhanced by myocardial infarction. We developed a knockin mouse model of oxidation-resistant CaMKIIδ (MM-VV), the isoform associated with cardiovascular disease. Streptozotocin-treated MM-VV mice and WT mice infused with MitoTEMPO, a mitochondrial targeted antioxidant, expressed significantly less ox-CaMKII, exhibited increased pacemaker cell survival, maintained normal heart rates, and were resistant to diabetes-attributable mortality after myocardial infarction. Our findings suggest that activation of a mitochondrial/ox-CaMKII pathway contributes to increased sudden death in diabetic patients after myocardial infarction.
Each normal heart beat is triggered by an electrical impulse emitted from a group of specialized cardiomyocytes that together form the sinoatrial node (SAN). In this issue of the JCI, Swaminathan and colleagues demonstrate a new molecular mechanism that can disrupt the normal beating of the heart: angiotensin II - typically found in increased levels in heart failure and hypertension - oxidizes and activates Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II via NADPH oxidase activation, causing SAN cell death. The loss of SAN cells produces an electrical imbalance termed the "source-sink mismatch," which may contribute to the SAN dysfunction that affects millions of people later in life and complicates a number of heart diseases.
Although normally absent, spontaneous pacemaker activity can develop in human atrium to promote tachyarrhythmias. HL-1 cells are immortalized atrial cardiomyocytes that contract spontaneously in culture, providing a model system of atrial cell automaticity. Using electrophysiologic recordings and selective pharmacologic blockers, we investigated the ionic basis of automaticity in atrial HL-1 cells. Both the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca release channel inhibitor ryanodine and the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca ATPase inhibitor thapsigargin slowed automaticity, supporting a role for intracellular Ca release in pacemaker activity. Additional experiments were performed to examine the effects of ionic currents activating in the voltage range of diastolic depolarization. Inhibition of the hyperpolarization-activated pacemaker current, If, by ivabradine significantly suppressed diastolic depolarization, with modest slowing of automaticity. Block of inward Na currents also reduced automaticity, whereas inhibition of T- and L-type Ca currents caused milder effects to slow beat rate. The major outward current in HL-1 cells is the rapidly activating delayed rectifier, IKr. Inhibition of IKr using dofetilide caused marked prolongation of action potential duration and thus spontaneous cycle length. These results demonstrate a mutual role for both intracellular Ca release and sarcolemmal ionic currents in controlling automaticity in atrial HL-1 cells. Given that similar internal and membrane-based mechanisms also play a role in sinoatrial nodal cell pacemaker activity, our findings provide evidence for generalized conservation of pacemaker mechanisms among different types of cardiomyocytes.
RATIONALE - Parasympathetic regulation of heart rate is mediated by acetylcholine binding to G protein-coupled muscarinic M2 receptors, which activate heterotrimeric G(i/o) proteins to promote G protein-coupled inwardly rectifying K(+) (GIRK) channel activation. Regulator of G protein signaling (RGS) proteins, which function to inactivate G proteins, are indispensable for normal parasympathetic control of the heart. However, it is unclear which of the more than 20 known RGS proteins function to negatively regulate and thereby ensure normal parasympathetic control of the heart.
OBJECTIVE - To examine the specific contribution of RGS6 as an essential regulator of parasympathetic signaling in heart.
METHODS AND RESULTS - We developed RGS6 knockout mice to determine the functional impact of loss of RGS6 on parasympathetic regulation of cardiac automaticity. RGS6 exhibited a uniquely robust expression in the heart, particularly in sinoatrial and atrioventricular nodal regions. Loss of RGS6 provoked dramatically exaggerated bradycardia in response to carbachol in mice and isolated perfused hearts and significantly enhanced the effect of carbachol on inhibition of spontaneous action potential firing in sinoatrial node cells. Consistent with a role of RGS6 in G protein inactivation, RGS6-deficient atrial myocytes exhibited a significant reduction in the time course of acetylcholine-activated potassium current (I(K)(ACh)) activation and deactivation, as well as the extent of I(K)(ACh) desensitization.
CONCLUSIONS - RGS6 is a previously unrecognized, but essential, regulator of parasympathetic activation in heart, functioning to prevent parasympathetic override and severe bradycardia. These effects likely result from actions of RGS6 as a negative regulator of G protein activation of GIRK channels.
The coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor (CAR), which mediates infection by the viruses most commonly associated with myocarditis, is a transmembrane component of specialized intercellular junctions, including the myocardial intercalated disc; it is known to mediate cell-cell recognition, but its natural function is poorly understood. We used conditional gene targeting to investigate the possible functions of CAR during embryonic development, generating mice with both germline and tissue-specific defects in CAR expression. Homozygous germline deletion of CAR exon 2 or cardiomyocyte-specific gene deletion at embryonic day 10 (E10) mediated by Cre recombinase expressed under the control of the cardiac troponin T promoter resulted in death by E12.5; embryos showed marked cardiac abnormalities by E10.5, with hyperplasia of the left ventricular myocardium, distention of the cardinal veins, and abnormalities of sinuatrial valves. Within the hyperplastic left ventricle, increased numbers of proliferating cells were evident; persistent expression of N-myc in the hyperplastic myocardium and attenuated expression of the trabecular markers atrial natriuretic factor and bone morphogenic protein 10 indicated that proliferating cardiomyocytes had failed to differentiate and form normal trabeculae. In electron micrographs, individual CAR-deficient cardiomyocytes within the left ventricle appeared normal, but intercellular junctions were ill-formed or absent, consistent with the known function of CAR as a junctional molecule; myofibrils were also poorly organized. When cardiomyocyte-specific deletion occurred somewhat later (by E11, mediated by Cre under control of the alpha-myosin heavy chain promoter), animals survived to adulthood and did not have evident cardiac abnormalities. These results indicate that during a specific temporal window, CAR expression on cardiomyocytes is essential for normal cardiac development. In addition, the results suggest that CAR-mediated intercellular contacts may regulate proliferation and differentiation of cardiomyocytes within the embryonic left ventricular wall.