Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, affecting over two million patients in the US alone. Despite decades of research, surprisingly little is known regarding the molecular pathways underlying the pathogenesis of AF. ANK2 encodes ankyrin-B, a multifunctional adapter molecule implicated in membrane targeting of ion channels, transporters, and signaling molecules in excitable cells.
Methods and Results
Here, we report early-onset AF in patients harboring loss-of-function mutations in ANK2. In mice, we show that ankyrin-B-deficiency results in atrial electrophysiological dysfunction and increased susceptibility to AF. Moreover, ankyrin-B+/− atrial myocytes display shortened action potentials, consistent with human AF. Ankyrin-B is expressed in atrial myocytes, and we demonstrate its requirement for the membrane targeting and function of a subgroup of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels (Cav1.3) responsible for low-voltage activated L-type Ca2+current. Ankyrin-B directly associates with Cav1.3, and this interaction is regulated by a short, highly-conserved motif specific to Cav1.3. Moreover, loss of ankyrin-B in atrial myocytes results in decreased Cav1.3 expression, membrane localization, and function sufficient to produce shortened atrial action potentials and arrhythmias. Finally, we demonstrate reduced ankyrin-B expression in atrial samples of patients with documented AF, further supporting an association between ankyrin-B and AF.
These findings support that reduced ankyrin-B expression or mutations in ANK2 are associated with atrial fibrillation. Additionally, our data demonstrate a novel pathway for ankyrin-B-dependent regulation of Cav1.3 channel membrane targeting and regulation in atrial myocytes.
Ankyrin; atrial fibrillation; calcium channel; ion channel targeting
calmodulin kinase II; calcium signaling; electrophysiology arrhythmogenesis; heart failure
Catecholamines increase heart rate by augmenting the cAMP responsive HCN4 ‘pacemaker current’ (If) and/or by promoting inward Na+/Ca2+ exchanger current (INCX), by a ‘Ca2+ clock’ mechanism in sinoatrial nodal cells (SANCs). The importance, identity and function of signals that connect If and Ca2+ clock mechanisms are uncertain and controversial, but the multifunctional Ca2+ and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is required for physiological heart rate responses to β-adrenergic receptor (β-AR) stimulation. The aim of this stuy is to measure the contribution of the Ca2+ clock and CaMKII to cardiac pacing independent of β-AR agonist stimulation.
Methods and Results
We used the L-type Ca2+ channel agonist BayK 8644 (BayK) to activate the SANC Ca2+ clock. BayK and isoproterenol were similarly effective in increasing rates in SANCs and Langendorff-perfused hearts from WT control mice. In contrast, SANCs and isolated hearts from mice with CaMKII inhibition by transgenic expression of an inhibitory peptide (AC3-I) were resistant to rate increases by BayK. BayK only activated CaMKII in control SANCs, but increased ICa equally in all SANCs, indicating that increasing ICa was insufficient and suggesting CaMKII activation was required for heart rate increases by BayK. BayK did not increase If or protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent phosphorylation of phospholamban (at Ser16), indicating that increased SANC Ca2+ by BayK did not augment cAMP/PKA signaling at these targets. Late diastolic intracellular Ca2+ release and INCX were significantly reduced in AC3-I SANCs and the response to BayK was eliminated by ryanodine in all groups.
The Ca2+ clock is capable of supporting physiological fight or flight responses, independent of β-AR stimulation or If increases. Complete Ca2+ clock and β-AR stimulation responses require CaMKII.
Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaMKII); sinoatrial node cells; L-type Ca2+ channels; pacemaker current; sarcoplasmic reticulum
Ankyrin polypeptides are cellular adapter proteins that tether integral membrane proteins to the cytoskeleton in a host of human organs. Initially identified as integral components of the cytoskeleton in erythrocytes, a recent explosion in ankyrin research has demonstrated that these proteins play prominent roles in cytoskeletal signaling pathways and membrane protein trafficking/regulation in a variety of excitable and non-excitable cells including heart and brain. Importantly, ankyrin research has translated from bench to bedside with the discovery of human gene variants associated with ventricular arrhythmias that alter ankyrin–based pathways. Ankyrin polypeptides have also been found to play an instrumental role in various forms of sinus node disease and atrial fibrillation (AF). Mouse models of ankyrin-deficiency have played fundamental roles in the translation of ankyrin-based research to new clinical understanding of human sinus node disease, AF, and ventricular tachycardia.
ankyrin; spectrin; arrhythmia; cytoskeleton; mouse model
Timothy Syndrome (TS) is a disease of excessive cellular Ca2+ entry and life-threatening arrhythmias due to a mutation in the primary cardiac L-type Ca2+ channel (CaV1.2). The TS mutation causes loss of normal voltage-dependent inactivation (VDI) of CaV1.2 current (ICa). During cellular Ca2+ overload the calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) causes arrhythmias. We hypothesized that CaMKII is a part of the proarrhythmic mechanism in TS.
Methods and Results
We developed an adult rat ventricular myocyte model of TS (G406R) by lenti virus-mediated transfer of wild type (WT) and TS CaV1.2. The exogenous CaV1.2 contained a mutation (T1066Y) conferring dihydropyridine resistance, so we could silence endogenous CaV1.2 with nifedipine and maintain peak ICa at control levels in infected cells. TS CaV1.2 infected ventricular myocytes exhibited the signature VDI loss under Ca2+ buffering conditions, not permissive for CaMKII activation. In physiological Ca2+ solutions, TS CaV1.2 expressing ventricular myocytes exhibited increased CaMKII activity and a proarrhythmic phenotype that included action potential prolongation, increased ICa facilitation and afterdepolarizations. Intracellular dialysis of a CaMKII inhibitory peptide, but not a control peptide, reversed increases in ICa facilitation, normalized the action potential and prevented afterdepolarizations. We developed a revised mathematical model that accounts for CaMKII-dependent and CaMKII-independent effects of the TS mutation.
In TS the loss of VDI is an upstream initiating event for arrhythmia phenotypes that are ultimately dependent on CaMKII activation.
action potentials; calcium; ion channels; myocytes
Recent studies of cholesterol-rich membrane microdomains, called caveolae, reveal that caveolae are reservoirs of “recruitable” sodium ion channels. Caveolar channels constitute a substantial and previously unrecognized source of sodium current in cardiac cells. In this paper we model for the first time caveolar sodium currents and their contributions to cardiac action potential morphology. We show that the β-agonist-induced opening of caveolae may have substantial impacts on peak overshoot, maximum upstroke velocity, and ultimately conduction velocity. Additionally, we show that prolonged action potentials and the formation of potentially arrhythmogenic afterdepolarizations, can arise if caveolae open intermittently throughout the action potential. Our simulations suggest that caveolar sodium current may constitute a route, which is independent of channelopathies, to delayed repolarization and the arrhythmias associated with such delays.
caveolae; cardiomyocyte; caveolin-3; mathematical model; β-adrenergic; LQT9
Cardiac membrane excitability is tightly regulated by an integrated network of membrane-associated ion channels, transporters, receptors, and signaling molecules. Membrane protein dynamics in health and disease are maintained by a complex ensemble of intracellular targeting, scaffolding, recycling, and degradation pathways. Surprisingly, despite decades of research linking dysfunction in membrane protein trafficking with human cardiovascular disease, essentially nothing is known regarding the molecular identity or function of these intracellular targeting pathways in excitable cardiomyocytes.
We sought to discover novel pathways for membrane protein targeting in primary cardiomyocytes.
Methods and Results
We report the initial characterization of a large family of membrane trafficking proteins in human heart. We employed a tissue-wide screen for novel ankyrin-associated trafficking proteins and identified four members of a unique Eps15 homology (EH) domain-containing protein family (EHD1, EHD2, EHD3, EHD4) that serve critical roles in endosome-based membrane protein targeting in other cell types. We show that EHD1-4 directly associate with ankyrin, provide the first information on the expression and localization of these molecules in primary cardiomyocytes, and demonstrate that EHD1-4 are co-expressed with ankyrin-B in the myocyte perinuclear region. Notably, the expression of multiple EHD proteins is increased in animal models lacking ankyrin-B, and EHD3-deficient cardiomyocytes display aberrant ankyrin-B localization and selective loss of Na/Ca exchanger expression and function. Finally, we report significant modulation of EHD expression following myocardial infarction, suggesting that these proteins may play a key role in regulating membrane excitability in normal and diseased heart.
Our findings identify and characterize a new class of cardiac trafficking proteins, define the first group of proteins associated with the ankyrin-based targeting network, and identify potential new targets to modulate membrane excitability in disease. Notably, these data provide the first link between EHD proteins and a human disease model.
trafficking; ion channel; ankyrin; EHD proteins; cytoskeleton; arrhythmia
Ion channel function is fundamental to the existence of life. In metazoans, the coordinate activities of voltage-gated Na+ channels underlie cellular excitability and control neuronal communication, cardiac excitation-contraction coupling, and skeletal muscle function. However, despite decades of research and linkage of Na+ channel dysfunction with arrhythmia, epilepsy, and myotonia, little progress has been made toward understanding the fundamental processes that regulate this family of proteins. Here, we have identified βIV-spectrin as a multifunctional regulatory platform for Na+ channels in mice. We found that βIV-spectrin targeted critical structural and regulatory proteins to excitable membranes in the heart and brain. Animal models harboring mutant βIV-spectrin alleles displayed aberrant cellular excitability and whole animal physiology. Moreover, we identified a regulatory mechanism for Na+ channels, via direct phosphorylation by βIV-spectrin–targeted calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII). Collectively, our data define an unexpected but indispensable molecular platform that determines membrane excitability in the mouse heart and brain.
Ankyrins are critical components of ion channel and transporter signaling complexes in the cardiovascular system. Over the past five years, ankyrin dysfunction has been linked with abnormal ion channel and transporter membrane organization and fatal human arrhythmias. Loss-of-function variants in the ankyrin-B gene (ANK2) cause “ankyrin-B syndrome” (previously called type 4 long QT syndrome), manifested by a complex cardiac phenotype including ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. More recently, dysfunction in the ankyrin-B-based targeting pathway has been linked with a highly penetrant and severe form of human sinus node disease. Ankyrin-G (a second ankyrin gene product) is required for normal expression, membrane localization, and biophysical function of the primary cardiac voltage-gated sodium channel, Nav1.5. Loss of the ankyrin-G/Nav1.5 interaction is associated with human cardiac arrhythmia (Brugada syndrome). Finally, in the past year ankyrin dysfunction has been associated with more common arrhythmia and cardiovascular disease phenotypes. Specifically, large animal studies reveal striking remodeling of ankyrin-B and associated proteins following myocardial infarction. Additionally, the ANK2 locus has been linked with QTc interval variability in the general human population. Together, these findings identify a host of unanticipated and exciting roles for ankyrin polypeptides in cardiac function. More broadly, these findings illustrate the importance of local membrane organization for normal cardiac physiology.
Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3) receptors are calcium-release channels found in the endoplasmic/sarcoplasmic reticulum (ER/SR) membrane of diverse cell types. InsP3 receptors release Ca2+ from ER/SR lumenal stores in response to InsP3 generated from various stimuli. The complex spatial and temporal patterns of InsP3 receptor-mediated Ca2+ release regulate many cellular processes, ranging from gene transcription to memory. Ankyrins are adaptor proteins implicated in the targeting of ion channels and transporters to specialized membrane domains. Multiple independent studies have documented in vitro and in vivo interactions between ankyrin polypeptides and the InsP3 receptor. Moreover, loss of ankyrin-B leads to loss of InsP3 receptor membrane expression and stability in cardiomyocytes. Despite extensive biochemical and functional data, the validity of in vivo ankyrin-InsP3 receptor interactions remains controversial. This controversy is based on inconsistencies between a previously identified ankyrin-binding region on the InsP3 receptor and InsP3 receptor topology data that demonstrate the inaccessibility of this lumenal binding site on the InsP3 receptor to cytosolic ankyrin polypeptides. Here we use two methods to revisit the requirements on InsP3 receptor for ankyrin binding. We demonstrate that ankyrin-B interacts with the cytoplasmic N-terminal domain of InsP3 receptor. In summary, our findings demonstrate that the ankyrin-binding site is located on the cytoplasmic face of the InsP3 receptor, thus validating the feasibility of in vivo ankyrin-InsP3 receptor interactions.
Trafficking; ankyrin; calcium; cytoskeleton; transport; InsP3 receptor
Ion channel reorganization is a critical step in the pro-arrhythmogenic remodelling process that occurs in heart disease. Ankyrin-B (AnkB) is required for targeting and stabilizing ion channels, exchangers, and pumps. Despite a wealth of knowledge implicating the importance of AnkB in human cardiovascular physiology, nothing is known regarding the role of AnkB in common forms of acquired human disease.
Methods and results
We present the first report of AnkB regulation following myocardial infarction (MI). AnkB protein levels were reduced in the infarct border zone 5 days following coronary artery occlusion in the canine. We also observed a dramatic increase in AnkB mRNA levels 5 days post-occlusion. Surprisingly, the expression of the upstream AnkB cytoskeletal component β2-spectrin was unchanged in post-infarct tissues. However, protein levels and/or membrane expression of downstream AnkB-associated ion channels and transporters Na+/K+ ATPase, Na+/Ca2+ exchanger, and IP3 receptor were altered 5 days post-occlusion. Interestingly, protein levels of the protein phosphatase 2A, an AnkB-associated signalling protein, were significantly affected 5 days post-occlusion. AnkB and PP2A protein levels recovered by 14 days post-occlusion, whereas Na+/K+ ATPase levels recovered by 2 months post-occlusion.
These findings reveal the first evidence of ankyrin remodelling following MI and suggest an unexpected divergence point for regulation between ankyrin and the underlying cytoskeletal network. These findings suggest a logical, but unexpected, molecular mechanism underlying ion channel and transporter remodelling following MI.
Arrhythmia (mechanisms); Infarction; Remodelling; Signal transduction; Cytoskeleton
Calmodulin kinase II (CaMKII) mediates critical signaling pathways responsible for divergent functions in the heart including calcium cycling, hypertrophy and apoptosis. Dysfunction in the CaMKII signaling pathway occurs in heart disease and is associated with increased susceptibility to life-threatening arrhythmia. Furthermore, CaMKII inhibition prevents cardiac arrhythmia and improves heart function following myocardial infarction. Recently, a novel mechanism for oxidative CaMKII activation was discovered in the heart. Here, we provide the first report of CaMKII oxidation state in a well-validated, large-animal model of heart disease. Specifically, we observe increased levels of oxidized CaMKII in the infarct border zone (BZ). These unexpected new data identify an alternative activation pathway for CaMKII in common cardiovascular disease. To study the role of oxidation-dependent CaMKII activation in creating a pro-arrhythmia substrate following myocardial infarction, we developed a new mathematical model of CaMKII activity including both oxidative and autophosphorylation activation pathways. Computer simulations using a multicellular mathematical model of the cardiac fiber demonstrate that enhanced CaMKII activity in the infarct BZ, due primarily to increased oxidation, is associated with reduced conduction velocity, increased effective refractory period, and increased susceptibility to formation of conduction block at the BZ margin, a prerequisite for reentry. Furthermore, our model predicts that CaMKII inhibition improves conduction and reduces refractoriness in the BZ, thereby reducing vulnerability to conduction block and reentry. These results identify a novel oxidation-dependent pathway for CaMKII activation in the infarct BZ that may be an effective therapeutic target for improving conduction and reducing heterogeneity in the infarcted heart.
Calmodulin kinase II (CaMKII) is a multifunctional serine/threonine kinase that regulates diverse functions in heart. Recently, a novel pathway for CaMKII activation was discovered where oxidation of the kinase at specific methionine residues produces persistent activity. This alternative oxidation-dependent pathway has important implications for heart disease where oxidative stress is increased (e.g., heart failure and following myocardial infarction). We hypothesized that myocardial infarction caused by occlusion of a coronary artery would increase levels of oxidized CaMKII. Moreover, we hypothesized that oxidative CaMKII activation represents an important mechanistic link between increased oxidative stress and life-threatening heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias) in heart disease. We report a dramatic increase in levels of oxidized CaMKII following myocardial infarction in the canine. Based on these experimental data, we developed a novel mathematical model of CaMKII activity to study the role of oxidation-dependent CaMKII activation in regulating cardiac cell excitability. Our findings identify a novel role for oxidation-dependent CaMKII activation following myocardial infarction and provide a mechanistic link between oxidative stress and lethal cardiac arrhythmias in heart disease.
Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II is a multifunctional serine/threonine kinase with diverse cardiac roles including regulation of excitation contraction, transcription, and apoptosis. Dynamic regulation of CaMKII activity occurs in cardiac disease and is linked to specific disease phenotypes through its effects on ion channels, transporters, transcription and cell death pathways. Recent mathematical models of the cardiomyocyte have incorporated limited elements of CaMKII signaling to advance our understanding of how CaMKII regulates cardiac contractility and excitability. Given the importance of CaMKII in cardiac disease, it is imperative that computer models evolve to capture the dynamic range of CaMKII activity. In this study, using mathematical modeling combined with biochemical and imaging techniques, we test the hypothesis that CaMKII signaling in the canine infarct border zone (BZ) contributes to impaired calcium homeostasis and electrical remodeling. We report that the level of CaMKII autophosphorylation is significantly increased in the BZ region. Computer simulations using an updated mathematical model of CaMKII signaling reproduce abnormal Ca2+ transients and action potentials characteristic of the BZ. Our simulations show that CaMKII hyperactivity contributes to abnormal Ca2+ homeostasis and reduced action potential upstroke velocity due to effects on INa gating kinetics. In conclusion, we present a new mathematical tool for studying effects of CaMKII signaling on cardiac excitability and contractility over a dynamic range of kinase activities. Our experimental and theoretical findings establish abnormal CaMKII signaling as an important component of remodeling in the canine BZ.
Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II; myocardial infarction; calcium handling; mathematical modeling; arrhythmia
Ischemic preconditioning delays the onset of electrical uncoupling and prevents loss of the primary ventricular gap junction protein connexin43 (Cx43) from gap junctions during subsequent ischemia.
To test the hypothesis that these effects are mediated by protein kinase C epsilon (PKCε), we studied isolated Langendorff-perfused hearts from mice with homozygous germline deletion of PKCε (PKCε-KO). Cx43 phosphorylation and distribution were measured by quantitative immunoblotting and confocal microscopy. Changes in electrical coupling were monitored using the 4-electrode technique to measure whole-tissue resistivity.
The amount of Cx43 located in gap junctions, measured by confocal microscopy under basal conditions, was significantly greater in PKCε-KO hearts compared to wildtype but total Cx43 content measured by immunoblotting was not different. These unanticipated results indicate that PKCε regulates subcellular distribution of Cx43 under normal conditions. Preconditioning prevented loss of Cx43 from gap junctions during ischemia in wildtype but not PKCε-KO hearts. Specific activation of PKCε, but not PKCδ, also prevented ischemia-induced loss of Cx43 from gap junctions. Preconditioning delayed the onset of uncoupling in wildtype but hastened uncoupling in PKCε-KO hearts. Cx43 phosphorylation at the PKC site Ser368 increased 5-fold after ischemia in wildtype hearts and, surprisingly, by nearly 10-fold in PKCε-KO hearts. Preconditioning prevented phosphorylation of Cx43 in gap junction plaques at Ser368 in wildtype but not PKCε-KO hearts.
Taken together, these results indicate that PKCε plays a critical role in preconditioning to preserve Cx43 signal in gap junctions and delay electrical uncoupling during ischemia.
preconditioning; gap junctions; connexin43; coupling; protein kinase C
Voltage-gated Nav channels are required for normal electrical activity in neurons, skeletal muscle, and cardiomyocytes. In the heart, Nav1.5 is the predominant Nav channel, and Nav1.5-dependent activity regulates rapid upstroke of the cardiac action potential. Nav1.5 activity requires precise localization at specialized cardiomyocyte membrane domains. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying Nav channel trafficking in the heart are unknown. In this paper, we demonstrate that ankyrin-G is required for Nav1.5 targeting in the heart. Cardiomyocytes with reduced ankyrin-G display reduced Nav1.5 expression, abnormal Nav1.5 membrane targeting, and reduced Na+ channel current density. We define the structural requirements on ankyrin-G for Nav1.5 interactions and demonstrate that loss of Nav1.5 targeting is caused by the loss of direct Nav1.5–ankyrin-G interaction. These data are the first report of a cellular pathway required for Nav channel trafficking in the heart and suggest that ankyrin-G is critical for cardiac depolarization and Nav channel organization in multiple excitable tissues.
Computational biology is a powerful tool for elucidating arrhythmogenic mechanisms at the cellular level, where complex interactions between ionic processes determine behavior. A novel theoretical model of the canine ventricular epicardial action potential and calcium cycling was developed and used to investigate ionic mechanisms underlying Ca2+ transient (CaT) and action potential duration (APD) rate dependence.
Methods and Results
The Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaMKII) regulatory pathway was integrated into the model, which included a novel Ca2+-release formulation, Ca2+ subspace, dynamic chloride handling, and formulations for major ion currents based on canine ventricular data. Decreasing pacing cycle length from 8000 to 300 ms shortened APD primarily because of ICa(L) reduction, with additional contributions from Ito1, INaK, and late INa. CaT amplitude increased as cycle length decreased from 8000 to 500 ms. This positive rate–dependent property depended on CaMKII activity.
CaMKII is an important determinant of the rate dependence of CaT but not of APD, which depends on ion-channel kinetics. The model of CaMKII regulation may serve as a paradigm for modeling effects of other regulatory pathways on cell function.
electrophysiology; action potentials; calcium; ion channels
Sinus node dysfunction (SND) is a major public health problem that is associated with sudden cardiac death and requires surgical implantation of artificial pacemakers. However, little is known about the molecular and cellular mechanisms that cause SND. Most SND occurs in the setting of heart failure and hypertension, conditions that are marked by elevated circulating angiotensin II (Ang II) and increased oxidant stress. Here, we show that oxidized calmodulin kinase II (ox-CaMKII) is a biomarker for SND in patients and dogs and a disease determinant in mice. In wild-type mice, Ang II infusion caused sinoatrial nodal (SAN) cell oxidation by activating NADPH oxidase, leading to increased ox-CaMKII, SAN cell apoptosis, and SND. p47–/– mice lacking functional NADPH oxidase and mice with myocardial or SAN-targeted CaMKII inhibition were highly resistant to SAN apoptosis and SND, suggesting that ox-CaMKII–triggered SAN cell death contributed to SND. We developed a computational model of the sinoatrial node that showed that a loss of SAN cells below a critical threshold caused SND by preventing normal impulse formation and propagation. These data provide novel molecular and mechanistic information to understand SND and suggest that targeted CaMKII inhibition may be useful for preventing SND in high-risk patients.