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1.  Transgenic swine: expression of human CD39 protects against myocardial injury 
CD39 (Ectonucleoside Triphosphate Diphosphohydrolase-1; ENTPD-1) rapidly hydrolyzes ATP and ADP to AMP; AMP is hydrolyzed by ecto-5′-nucleotidase (CD73) to adenosine, an anti-thrombotic and cardiovascular protective mediator. While expression of human CD39 in a murine model of myocardial ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury confers cardiac protection, the translational therapeutic potential of these findings require further testing in a large animal model. To determine if transgenic expression of CD39 reduces infarct size in a swine model of myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury. Transgenic pigs expressing human CD39 (hCD39) were generated via somatic cell nuclear transfer and characterized. Expression of hC39 in cardiac tissue was confirmed by immunoblot and immunohistochemistry. Myocardial I/R injury was induced by intracoronary balloon inflation in the left anterior descending (LAD) artery for 60 min followed by three hours of reperfusion. The ischemic area was delineated by perfusion with 5% Phthalo Blue and the myocardial infarct size was determined by triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TTC) staining. During ischemia, the rate-pressure product was significantly lower in control versus hCD39-Tg swine. Following reperfusion, compared to littermate control swine, hCD39-Tg animals displayed a significant reduction in infarct size (hCD39-Tg: 17.2 ± 4.3 % vs. Control: 44.7 ± 5.2 %, P=0.0025). Our findings demonstrate for the first time that the findings in transgenic mouse models translate to large animal transgenic models and validate the potential to translate CD39 into the clinical arena to attenuate human myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury.
doi:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2012.01.002
PMCID: PMC3327755  PMID: 22269791
transgenic pig; ectonucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase 1; CD39; myocardial ischemia; reperfusion
2.  Assembly of the Cardiac Intercalated Disk during Pre- and Postnatal Development of the Human Heart 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94722.
Background
In cardiac muscle, the intercalated disk (ID) at the longitudinal cell-edges of cardiomyocytes provides as a macromolecular infrastructure that integrates mechanical and electrical coupling within the heart. Pathophysiological disturbance in composition of this complex is well known to trigger cardiac arrhythmias and pump failure. The mechanisms underlying assembly of this important cellular domain in human heart is currently unknown.
Methods
We collected 18 specimens from individuals that died from non-cardiovascular causes. Age of the specimens ranged from a gestational age of 15 weeks through 11 years postnatal. Immunohistochemical labeling was performed against proteins comprising desmosomes, adherens junctions, the cardiac sodium channel and gap junctions to visualize spatiotemporal alterations in subcellular location of the proteins.
Results
Changes in spatiotemporal localization of the adherens junction proteins (N-cadherin and ZO-1) and desmosomal proteins (plakoglobin, desmoplakin and plakophilin-2) were identical in all subsequent ages studied. After an initial period of diffuse and lateral labelling, all proteins were fully localized in the ID at approximately 1 year after birth. Nav1.5 that composes the cardiac sodium channel and the gap junction protein Cx43 follow a similar pattern but their arrival in the ID is detected at (much) later stages (two years for Nav1.5 and seven years for Cx43, respectively).
Conclusion
Our data on developmental maturation of the ID in human heart indicate that generation of the mechanical junctions at the ID precedes that of the electrical junctions with a significant difference in time. In addition arrival of the electrical junctions (Nav1.5 and Cx43) is not uniform since sodium channels localize much earlier than gap junction channels.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094722
PMCID: PMC3986238  PMID: 24733085
3.  CaMKII Is Essential for the Proasthmatic Effects of Oxidation 
Science translational medicine  2013;5(195):195ra97.
Increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) contribute to asthma, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms connecting increased ROS with characteristic features of asthma. We show that enhanced oxidative activation of the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (ox-CaMKII) in bronchial epithelium positively correlates with asthma severity and that epithelial ox-CaMKII increases in response to inhaled allergens in patients. We used mouse models of allergic airway disease induced by ovalbumin (OVA) or Aspergillus fumigatus (Asp) and found that bronchial epithelial ox-CaMKII was required to increase a ROS- and picrotoxin-sensitive Cl− current (ICl) and MUC5AC expression, upstream events in asthma progression. Allergen challenge increased epithelial ROS by activating NADPH oxidases. Mice lacking functional NADPH oxidases due to knockout of p47 and mice with epithelial-targeted transgenic expression of a CaMKII inhibitory peptide or wild-type mice treated with inhaled KN-93, an experimental small molecule CaMKII antagonist, were protected against increases in ICl, MUC5AC expression, and airway hyper-reactivity to inhaled methacholine. Our findings support the view that CaMKII is a ROS-responsive, pluripotent pro-asthmatic signal and provide proof-of-concept evidence that CaMKII is a therapeutic target in asthma.
doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3006135
PMCID: PMC4331168  PMID: 23884469
4.  Ankyrin-G Directly Binds to Kinesin-1 to Transport Voltage-Gated Na+ Channels into Axons 
Developmental cell  2014;28(2):117-131.
Action potentials propagating along axons require the activation of voltage-gated Na+ (Nav) channels. How Nav channels are transported into axons is unknown. Here we show KIF5/kinesin-1 directly binds to ankyrin-G (AnkG) to transport Nav channels into axons. KIF5 and Nav1.2 channels bind to multiple sites in the AnkG N-terminal domain that contains 24 ankyrin repeats. Disrupting AnkG-KIF5 binding with siRNA or dominant-negative constructs markedly reduced Nav channel levels at the axon initial segment (AIS) and along entire axons, thereby decreasing action potential firing. Live-cell imaging showed that fluorescently-tagged AnkG or Nav1.2 co-transported with KIF5 along axons. Deleting AnkG in vivo or virus-mediated expression of a dominant-negative KIF5 construct specifically decreased the axonal level of Nav but not Kv1.2 channels in the mouse cerebellum. These results indicate AnkG functions as an adaptor to link Nav channels to KIF5 during axonal transport, before anchoring them to the AIS and nodes of Ranvier.
doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2013.11.023
PMCID: PMC3970081  PMID: 24412576
5.  Ankyrin regulates KATP channel membrane trafficking and gating in excitable cells 
Channels (Austin, Tex.)  2010;4(1):55-57.
K(ATP) channels play critical roles in many cellular functions by coupling cell metabolic status to electrical activity. First discovered in cardiomyocytes,1 KATP channels (comprised of Kir6.x and SUR subunits) have since been found in many other tissues, including pancreatic beta cells, skeletal muscle, smooth muscle, brain, pituitary and kidney. By linking cellular metabolic state with membrane potential, KATP channels are able to regulate a number of cellular functions such as hormone secretion, vascular tone and excitability. Specifically, a reduction in metabolism causes a decrease in the ATP:ADP ratio, opening of KATP channels, K+ efflux, membrane hyperpolarization, and suppression of electrical activity. Conversely, increased cellular metabolism causes an increase in the ATP:ADP ratio that leads to closure of the KATP channel, membrane depolarization, and stimulation of cell electrical activity.
PMCID: PMC3671389  PMID: 19901534
ankyrin; spectrin; trafficking; targeting; cytoskeleton; diabetes
7.  Calcium-Activated Potassium Current Modulates Ventricular Repolarization in Chronic Heart Failure 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e108824.
The role of IKCa in cardiac repolarization remains controversial and varies across species. The relevance of the current as a therapeutic target is therefore undefined. We examined the cellular electrophysiologic effects of IKCa blockade in controls, chronic heart failure (HF) and HF with sustained atrial fibrillation. We used perforated patch action potential recordings to maintain intrinsic calcium cycling. The IKCa blocker (apamin 100 nM) was used to examine the role of the current in atrial and ventricular myocytes. A canine tachypacing induced model of HF (1 and 4 months, n = 5 per group) was used, and compared to a group of 4 month HF with 6 weeks of superimposed atrial fibrillation (n = 7). A group of age-matched canine controls were used (n = 8). Human atrial and ventricular myocytes were isolated from explanted end-stage failing hearts which were obtained from transplant recipients, and studied in parallel. Atrial myocyte action potentials were unchanged by IKCa blockade in all of the groups studied. IKCa blockade did not affect ventricular myocyte repolarization in controls. HF caused prolongation of ventricular myocyte action potential repolarization. IKCa blockade caused further prolongation of ventricular repolarization in HF and also caused repolarization instability and early afterdepolarizations. SK2 and SK3 expression in the atria and SK3 in the ventricle were increased in canine heart failure. We conclude that during HF, IKCa blockade in ventricular myocytes results in cellular arrhythmias. Furthermore, our data suggest an important role for IKCa in the maintenance of ventricular repolarization stability during chronic heart failure. Our findings suggest that novel antiarrhythmic therapies should have safety and efficacy evaluated in both atria and ventricles.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108824
PMCID: PMC4182742  PMID: 25271970
8.  SAP97 and Cortactin Remodeling in Arrhythmogenic Purkinje Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106830.
Because structural remodeling of several proteins, including ion channels, may underlie the abnormal action potentials of Purkinje cells (PCs) that survive in the 48 hr infarcted zone of the canine heart (IZPCs), we sought to determine the subcellular structure and function of the KV1.5 (KCNA5) protein in single IZPCs. Clustering of the Kv1.5 subunit in axons is regulated by a synapse-associated protein, SAP97, and is linked to an actin-binding protein, cortactin, and an intercellular adhesion molecule, N-cadherin. To understand the functional remodeling of the Kv1.5 channel and its regulation in IZPCs, Kv1.5 currents in PCs were measured as the currents blocked by 10 µM RSD1379 using patch-clamp techniques. Immunocytochemistry and confocal imaging were used for both single and aggregated IZPCs vs normal PCs (NZPCs) to determine the relationship of Kv1.5 with SAP-97, cortactin and N-cadherin. In IZPCs, both the sarcolemma (SL) and intercalated disk (ID) Kv1.5 protein are abundant, and the amount of cytosolic Kv1.5 protein is greatly increased. SAP-97 is also increased at IDs and has notable cytosolic localization suggesting that SAP-97 may regulate the functional expression and stabilization of Kv1.5 channels in IZPCs. Cortactin, which is located with N-cadherin at IDs in NZPCs, remains at IDs but begins to dissociate from N-cadherin, often forming ring structures and colocalizing with Kv1.5 within IZPCs. At the same time, cortactin/Kv1.5 colocalization is increased at the ID, suggesting an ongoing active process of membrane trafficking of the channel protein. Finally, the Kv1.5 current, measured as the RSD1379-sensitive current, at +40 mV did not differ between NZPCs (0.81±0.24 pA/pF, n = 14) and IZPCs (0.83±0.21 pA/pF, n = 13, NS). In conclusion, the subcellular structural remodeling of Kv1.5, SAP97 and cortactin maintained and normalized the function of the Kv1.5 channel in Purkinje cells that survived myocardial infarction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106830
PMCID: PMC4153673  PMID: 25184222
9.  Role of late sodium current as a potential arrhythmogenic mechanism in the progression of pressure-induced heart disease 
Aims
To determine the characteristics of the late Na current (INaL) and its arrhythmogenic potential in the progression of pressure-induced heart disease.
Methods and Results
Transverse aortic constriction (TAC) was used to induce pressure overload in mice. After one week the hearts developed isolated hypertrophy with preserved systolic contractility. In patch-clamp experiments both, INaL and the action potential duration (APD90) were unchanged.
In contrast, after five weeks animals developed heart failure with prolonged APDs and the slowed INaL decay time which could be normalized by addition of the INaL inhibitor ranolazine (Ran) or by the Ca/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) inhibitor AIP. Accordingly the APD90 could be significantly abbreviated by Ran, tetrodotoxin and the CaMKII inhibitor AIP. Isoproterenol increased the number of delayed afterdepolarizations (DAD) in myocytes from failing but not sham hearts. Application of either Ran or AIP prevented the occurrence of DADs. Moreover, the incidence of triggered activity was significantly increased in TAC myocytes and was largely prevented by Ran and AIP.
Western blot analyses indicate that increased CaMKII activity and a hyperphosphorylation of the Nav1.5 at the CaMKII phosphorylation site (Ser571) paralleled our functional observations five weeks after TAC surgery.
Conclusion
In pressure overload-induced heart failure a CaMKII-dependent augmentation of INaL plays a crucial role in the AP prolongation and generation of cellular arrhythmogenic triggers, which cannot yet be found in early and still compensated hypertrophy. Inhibition of INaL and CaMKII exert potent antiarrhythmic effects and might therefore be of potential therapeutic interest.
doi:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2013.03.021
PMCID: PMC3720777  PMID: 23570977
Heart failure; hypertrophy; arrhythmias; INaL; CaMKII; ranolazine
10.  CaMKII inhibition rescues pro-arrhythmic phenotypes in model of human ankyrin-B syndrome 
Background
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death worldwide. Arrhythmias are associated with significant morbidity and mortality related to cardiovascular disease. Recent work illustrates that many cardiac arrhythmias are initiated by a pathologic imbalance between kinase and phosphatase activities in excitable cardiomyocytes.
Objective
We tested the relationship between myocyte kinase/phosphatase imbalance and cellular and whole animal arrhythmia phenotypes associated with ankyrin-B cardiac syndrome.
Methods
Using a combination of biochemical, electrophysiological, and in vivo approaches, we tested the ability of CaMKII inhibition to rescue imbalance in kinase/phosphatase pathways associated with human ankyrin-B-associated cardiac arrhythmia.
Results
The cardiac ryanodine receptor (RyR2), a validated target of kinase/phosphatase regulation in myocytes, displays abnormal CaMKII-dependent phosphorylation (pS2814 hyperphosphorylation) in ankyrin-B+/− heart. Notably, RyR2 dysregulation is rescued in myocytes from ankyrin-B+/− mice overexpressing a potent CaMKII-inhibitory peptide (AC3I) and aberrant RyR2 open probability observed in ankyrin-B+/− hearts is normalized by treatment with the CaMKII inhibitor KN-93. CaMKII-inhibition is sufficient to rescue abnormalities in ankyrin-B+/− myocyte electrical dysfunction including cellular afterdepolarizations, and significantly blunts whole animal cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death in response to elevated sympathetic tone.
Conclusions
These findings illustrate the complexity of the molecular components involved in human arrhythmia and define regulatory elements of the ankyrin-B pathway in pathophysiology. Furthermore, the findings illustrate the potential impact of CaMKII-inhibition in the treatment of a congenital form of human cardiac arrhythmia.
doi:10.1016/j.hrthm.2012.08.026
PMCID: PMC3630478  PMID: 23059182
ankyrin; CaMKII; ryanodine receptor; spectrin; arrhythmia
11.  A Module of Human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Transcriptional Network Containing Primitive and Differentiation Markers Is Related to Specific Cardiovascular Health Variables 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95124.
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), including rare circulating stem and progenitor cells (CSPCs), have important yet poorly understood roles in the maintenance and repair of blood vessels and perfused organs. Our hypothesis was that the identities and functions of CSPCs in cardiovascular health could be ascertained by analyzing the patterns of their co-expressed markers in unselected PBMC samples. Because gene microarrays had failed to detect many stem cell-associated genes, we performed quantitative real-time PCR to measure the expression of 45 primitive and tissue differentiation markers in PBMCs from healthy and hypertensive human subjects. We compared these expression levels to the subjects' demographic and cardiovascular risk factors, including vascular stiffness. The tested marker genes were expressed in all of samples and organized in hierarchical transcriptional network modules, constructed by a bottom-up approach. An index of gene expression in one of these modules (metagene), defined as the average standardized relative copy numbers of 15 pluripotency and cardiovascular differentiation markers, was negatively correlated (all p<0.03) with age (R2 = −0.23), vascular stiffness (R2 = −0.24), and central aortic pressure (R2 = −0.19) and positively correlated with body mass index (R2 = 0.72, in women). The co-expression of three neovascular markers was validated at the single-cell level using mRNA in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry. The overall gene expression in this cardiovascular module was reduced by 72±22% in the patients compared with controls. However, the compactness of both modules was increased in the patients' samples, which was reflected in reduced dispersion of their nodes' degrees of connectivity, suggesting a more primitive character of the patients' CSPCs. In conclusion, our results show that the relationship between CSPCs and vascular function is encoded in modules of the PBMCs transcriptional network. Furthermore, the coordinated gene expression in these modules can be linked to cardiovascular risk factors and subclinical cardiovascular disease; thus, this measure may be useful for their diagnosis and prognosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095124
PMCID: PMC3997360  PMID: 24759906
12.  Remodeling of the cardiac sodium channel, Connexin43 and Plakoglobin at the intercalated disk in patients with arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy 
Background
Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy (AC) is tightly associated with desmosomal mutations in the majority of patients. Arrhythmogenesis in AC patients is likely related to remodeling of cardiac gap junctions and increased levels of fibrosis. Recently, using experimental models, we also identified sodium channel dysfunction secondary to desmosomal dysfunction. The aim of the present study was to assess the immunoreactive signal levels of the sodium channel protein NaV1.5, as well as Connexin43 and Plakoglobin, in myocardial specimens obtained from AC patients.
Methods
Left and right ventricular free wall (LVFW/RVFW) post-mortem material was obtained from 5 AC patients and 5 age and sex-matched controls. RV septal biopsies (RVSB) were taken from another 15 AC patients. All patients fulfilled the 2010 revised Task Force Criteria for AC diagnosis. Immunohistochemical analyses were performed using antibodies against Connexin43 (Cx43), Plakoglobin, NaV1.5, Plakophilin-2 and N-Cadherin.
Results
N-Cadherin and Desmoplakin immunoreactive signals and distribution were normal in AC patients compared to control. Plakophilin-2 signals were unaffected unless a PKP2 mutation predicting haploinsufficiency was present. Distribution was unchanged compared to control. Immunoreactive signal levels of PKG, Cx43 and NaV1.5 were disturbed in 74%, 70% and 65% of the patients, respectively.
Conclusions
Reduced immunoreactive signal of PKG, Cx43 and NaV1.5 at the intercalated disks can be observed in a large majority of the patients. Decreased levels of Nav1.5 might contribute to arrhythmia vulnerability and, in the future, potentially could serve as a new clinically relevant tool for risk assessment strategies.
doi:10.1016/j.hrthm.2012.11.018
PMCID: PMC3608196  PMID: 23178689
13.  Nitric Oxide-Dependent Activation of CaMKII Increases Diastolic Sarcoplasmic Reticulum Calcium Release in Cardiac Myocytes in Response to Adrenergic Stimulation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87495.
Spontaneous calcium waves in cardiac myocytes are caused by diastolic sarcoplasmic reticulum release (SR Ca2+ leak) through ryanodine receptors. Beta-adrenergic (β-AR) tone is known to increase this leak through the activation of Ca-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaMKII) and the subsequent phosphorylation of the ryanodine receptor. When β-AR drive is chronic, as observed in heart failure, this CaMKII-dependent effect is exaggerated and becomes potentially arrhythmogenic. Recent evidence has indicated that CaMKII activation can be regulated by cellular oxidizing agents, such as reactive oxygen species. Here, we investigate how the cellular second messenger, nitric oxide, mediates CaMKII activity downstream of the adrenergic signaling cascade and promotes the generation of arrhythmogenic spontaneous Ca2+ waves in intact cardiomyocytes. Both SCaWs and SR Ca2+ leak were measured in intact rabbit and mouse ventricular myocytes loaded with the Ca-dependent fluorescent dye, fluo-4. CaMKII activity in vitro and immunoblotting for phosphorylated residues on CaMKII, nitric oxide synthase, and Akt were measured to confirm activity of these enzymes as part of the adrenergic cascade. We demonstrate that stimulation of the β-AR pathway by isoproterenol increased the CaMKII-dependent SR Ca2+ leak. This increased leak was prevented by inhibition of nitric oxide synthase 1 but not nitric oxide synthase 3. In ventricular myocytes isolated from wild-type mice, isoproterenol stimulation also increased the CaMKII-dependent leak. Critically, in myocytes isolated from nitric oxide synthase 1 knock-out mice this effect is ablated. We show that isoproterenol stimulation leads to an increase in nitric oxide production, and nitric oxide alone is sufficient to activate CaMKII and increase SR Ca2+ leak. Mechanistically, our data links Akt to nitric oxide synthase 1 activation downstream of β-AR stimulation. Collectively, this evidence supports the hypothesis that CaMKII is regulated by nitric oxide as part of the adrenergic cascade leading to arrhythmogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087495
PMCID: PMC3911966  PMID: 24498331
14.  A Novel Core-Shell Microcapsule for Encapsulation and 3D Culture of Embryonic Stem Cells 
In this study, we report the preparation of a novel microcapsule of ~ 100 μm with a liquid (as compared to solid-like alginate hydrogel) core and an alginate-chitosan-alginate (ACA) shell for encapsulation and culture of embryonic stem (ES) cells in the miniaturized 3D space of the liquid core. Murine R1 ES cells cultured in the microcapsules were found to survive (> 90%) well and proliferate to form either a single aggregate of pluripotent cells or embryoid body (EB) of more differentiated cells in each microcapsule within 7 days, dependent on the culture medium used. This novel microcapsule technology allows massive production of the cell aggregates or EBs of uniform size and controllable pluripotency, which is important for the practical application of stem cell based therapy. Moreover, the semipermeable ACA shell was found to significantly reduce immunoglobulin G (IgG) binding to the encapsulated cells by up to 8.2 times, compared to non-encapsulated cardiac fibroblasts, mesenchymal stem cells, and ES cells. This reduction should minimize inflammatory and immune responses induced damage to the cells implanted in vivo becasue IgG binding is an important first step of the undesired host responses. Therefore, the ACA microcapsule with selective shell permeability should be of importance to advance the emerging cell-based medicine.
doi:10.1039/C2TB00058J
PMCID: PMC3596163  PMID: 23505611
15.  A Nonthoracotomy Myocardial Infarction Model in an Ovine Using Autologous Platelets 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:938047.
Objective. There is a paucity of a biological large animal model of myocardial infarction (MI). We hypothesized that, using autologous-aggregated platelets, we could create an ovine model that was reproducible and more closely mimicked the pathophysiology of MI. Methods. Mepacrine stained autologous platelets from male sheep (n = 7) were used to create a myocardial infarction via catheter injection into the mid-left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery. Serial daily serum troponin measurements were taken and tissue harvested on post-embolization day three. Immunofluorescence microscopy was used to detect the mepacrine-stained platelet-induced thrombus, and histology performed to identify three distinct myocardial (infarct, peri-ischemic “border zone,” and remote) zones. Results. Serial serum troponin levels (μg/mL) measured 0.0 ± 0.0 at baseline and peaked at 297.4 ± 58.0 on post-embolization day 1, followed by 153.0 ± 38.8 on day 2 and 76.7 ± 19.8 on day 3. Staining confirmed distinct myocardial regions of inflammation and fibrosis as well as mepacrine-stained platelets as the cause of intravascular thrombosis. Conclusion. We report a reproducible, unique model of a biological myocardial infarction in a large animal model. This technique can be used to study acute, regional myocardial changes following a thrombotic injury.
doi:10.1155/2013/938047
PMCID: PMC3866830  PMID: 24367790
16.  Defects in ankyrin-based membrane protein targeting pathways underlie atrial fibrillation 
Circulation  2011;124(11):1212-1222.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.023986
PMCID: PMC3211046  PMID: 21859974
Ankyrin; atrial fibrillation; calcium channel; ion channel targeting
17.  Defining the Common Disconnect between in vitro Models and Human Arrhythmogenic Disease: Context Matters 
Circulation  2011;124(9):993-995.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.051466
PMCID: PMC3211044  PMID: 21875919
18.  CaMKII-Based Regulation of Voltage-Gated Na+ Channel in Cardiac Disease 
Circulation  2012;126(17):10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.105320.
Background
Human gene variants affecting ion channel biophysical activity and/or membrane localization are linked with potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias. However, the mechanism for many human arrhythmia variants remains undefined despite over a decade of investigation. Post-translational modulation of membrane proteins is essential for normal cardiac function. Importantly, aberrant myocyte signaling has been linked to defects in cardiac ion channel post-translational modifications and disease. We recently identified a novel pathway for post-translational regulation of the primary cardiac voltage-gated Na+ channel (Nav1.5) by CaMKII. However, a role for this pathway in cardiac disease has not been evaluated.
Methods and Results
We evaluated the role of CaMKII-dependent phosphorylation in human genetic and acquired disease. We report an unexpected link between a short motif in the Nav1.5 DI-DII loop, recently shown to be critical for CaMKII-dependent phosphorylation, and Nav1.5 function in monogenic arrhythmia and common heart disease. Experiments in heterologous cells and primary ventricular cardiomyocytes demonstrate that human arrhythmia susceptibility variants (A572D and Q573E) alter CaMKII-dependent regulation of Nav1.5 resulting in abnormal channel activity and cell excitability. In silico analysis reveals that these variants functionally mimic the phosphorylated channel resulting in increased susceptibility to arrhythmia-triggering afterdepolarizations. Finally, we report that this same motif is aberrantly regulated in a large animal model of acquired heart disease and in failing human myocardium.
Conclusions
We identify the mechanism for two human arrhythmia variants that affect Nav1.5 channel activity through direct effects on channel post-translational modification. We propose that the CaMKII phosphorylation motif in the Nav1.5 DI-DII cytoplasmic loop is a critical nodal point for pro-arrhythmic changes to Nav1.5 in congenital and acquired cardiac disease.
doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.105320
PMCID: PMC3811023  PMID: 23008441
arrhythmia (mechanisms); calmodulin dependent protein kinase II; heart failure; ion channels; long-QT syndrome; myocardial infarction
19.  Ankyrin-G Participates in INa Remodeling in Myocytes from the Border Zones of Infarcted Canine Heart 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78087.
Cardiac Na channel remodeling provides a critical substrate for generation of reentrant arrhythmias in border zones of the infarcted canine heart. Recent studies show that Nav1.5 assembly and function are linked to ankyrin-G, gap, and mechanical junction proteins. In this study our objective is to expound the status of the cardiac Na channel, its interacting protein ankyrinG and the mechanical and gap junction proteins at two different times post infarction when arrhythmias are known to occur; that is, 48 hr and 5 day post coronary occlusion. Previous studies have shown the origins of arrhythmic events come from the subendocardial Purkinje and epicardial border zone. Our Purkinje cell (Pcell) voltage clamp study shows that INa and its kinetic parameters do not differ between Pcells from the subendocardium of the 48hr infarcted heart (IZPCs) and control non-infarcted Pcells (NZPCs). Immunostaining studies revealed that disturbances of Nav1.5 protein location with ankyrin-G are modest in 48 hr IZPCs. Therefore, Na current remodeling does not contribute to the abnormal conduction in the subendocardial border zone 48 hr post myocardial infarction as previously defined. In addition, immunohistochemical data show that Cx40/Cx43 co-localize at the intercalated disc (IDs) of control NZPCs but separate in IZPCs. At the same time, Purkinje cell desmoplakin and desmoglein2 immunostaining become diffuse while plakophilin2 and plakoglobin increase in abundance at IDs. In the epicardial border zone 5 days post myocardial infarction, immunoblot and immunocytochemical analyses showed that ankyrin-G protein expression is increased and re-localized to submembrane cell regions at a time when Nav1.5 function is decreased. Thus, Nav1.5 and ankyrin-G remodeling occur later after myocardial infarction compared to that of gap and mechanical junctional proteins. Gap and mechanical junctional proteins remodel in IZPCs early, perhaps to help maintain Nav1.5 subcellular location position and preserve its function soon after myocardial infarction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078087
PMCID: PMC3796465  PMID: 24155982
20.  Defects in Cytoskeletal Signaling Pathways, Arrhythmia, and Sudden Cardiac Death 
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.
doi:10.3389/fphys.2012.00122
PMCID: PMC3343379  PMID: 22586405
ankyrin; spectrin; arrhythmia; cytoskeleton; mouse model
21.  Defining a new paradigm for human arrhythmia syndromes: Phenotypic manifestations of gene mutations in ion channel- and transporter-associated proteins 
Circulation research  2010;107(4):457-465.
Over the past fifteen years, gene mutations in cardiac ion channels have been linked with a host of potentially fatal human arrhythmias including long QT syndrome, short QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, and catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia. More recently, a new paradigm for human arrhythmia has emerged based on gene mutations that affect the activity of cardiac ion channel- and transporter- associated proteins. As part of the Circulation Research thematic series on Inherited Arrhythmias, this review will focus on the emerging field of human arrhythmias due to dysfunction in cytosolic gene products (including ankyrins, yotiao, syntrophin, and caveolin-3) that regulate the activities of key membrane ion channels and transporters.
doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.110.224592
PMCID: PMC2930837  PMID: 20724725
arrhythmia; cytoskeleton; ankyrin; AKAP; yotiao; syntrophin; caveolin-3
22.  Deletion of the last five C-terminal amino acid residues of connexin43 leads to lethal ventricular arrhythmias in mice without affecting coupling via gap junction channels 
Basic research in cardiology  2013;108(3):348.
The cardiac intercalated disc harbors mechanical and electrical junctions as well as ion channel complexes mediating propagation of electrical impulses. Cardiac connexin43 (Cx43) co-localizes and interacts with several of the proteins located at intercalated discs in the ventricular myocardium. We have generated conditional Cx43D378stop mice lacking the last five C-terminal amino acid residues, representing a binding motif for zonula occludens protein-1 (ZO-1), and investigated the functional consequences of this mutation on cardiac physiology and morphology. Newborn and adult homozygous Cx43D378stop mice displayed markedly impaired and heterogeneous cardiac electrical activation properties and died from severe ventricular arrhythmias. Cx43 and ZO-1 were co-localized at intercalated discs in Cx43D378stop hearts, and the Cx43D378stop gap junction channels showed normal coupling properties. Patch clamp analyses of isolated adult Cx43D378stop cardiomyocytes revealed a significant decrease in sodium and potassium current densities. Furthermore, we also observed a significant loss of Nav1.5 protein from intercalated discs in Cx43D378stop hearts. The phenotypic lethality of the Cx43D378stop mutation was very similar to the one previously reported for adult Cx43 deficient (Cx43KO) mice. Yet, in contrast to Cx43KO mice, the Cx43 gap junction channel was still functional in the Cx43D378stop mutant. We conclude that the lethality of Cx43D378stop mice is independent of the loss of gap junctional intercellular communication, but most likely results from impaired cardiac sodium and potassium currents. The Cx43D378stop mice reveal for the first time that Cx43 dependent arrhythmias can develop by mechanisms other than impairment of gap junction channel function.
doi:10.1007/s00395-013-0348-y
PMCID: PMC3678986  PMID: 23558439
Connexin43; Zonula occludens protein-1; Nav1.5; Intercalated disc
23.  Ankyrin-B reduction enhances Ca spark-mediated SR Ca release promoting cardiac myocyte arrhythmic activity 
Ankyrin-B (AnkB) loss-of-function may cause ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in humans. Cardiac myocytes from AnkB heterozygous mice (AnkB+/−) show reduced expression and altered localization of Na/Ca exchanger (NCX) and Na/K-ATPase (NKA), key players in regulating [Na]i and [Ca]i. Here we investigate how AnkB reduction affects cardiac [Na]i, [Ca]i and SR Ca release. We found reduced NCX and NKA transport function but unaltered [Na]i and diastolic [Ca]i in myocytes from AnkB+/− vs. wild-type (WT) mice. Ca transients, SR Ca content and fractional SR Ca release were larger in AnkB+/− myocytes. The frequency of spontaneous, diastolic Ca sparks (CaSpF) was significantly higher in intact myocytes from AnkB+/− vs. WT myocytes (with and without isoproterenol), even when normalized for SR Ca load. However, total ryanodine receptor (RyR)-mediated SR Ca leak (tetracaine-sensitive) was not different between groups. Thus, in AnkB+/− mice SR Ca leak is biased towards more Ca sparks (vs. smaller release events), suggesting more coordinated openings of RyRs in a cluster. This is due to local cytosolic RyR regulation, rather than intrinsic RyR differences, since CaSpF was similar in saponin-permeabilized myocytes from WT and AnkB+/− mice. The more coordinated RyRs openings resulted in an increased propensity of pro-arrhythmic Ca waves in AnkB+/− myocytes. In conclusion, AnkB reduction alters cardiac Na and Ca transport and enhances the coupled RyR openings, resulting in more frequent Ca sparks and waves although the total SR Ca leak is unaffected. This could enhance the propensity for triggered arrhythmias in AnkB+/− mice.
doi:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2012.02.010
PMCID: PMC3348355  PMID: 22406428
ankyrin-B; Na/K-ATPase; Na/Ca exchanger; intracellular Na; Ca sparks; SR Ca leak
24.  EH domain proteins regulate cardiac membrane protein targeting 
Circulation research  2010;107(1):84-95.
Rationale
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.
Objective
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.110.216713
PMCID: PMC2901408  PMID: 20489164
trafficking; ion channel; ankyrin; EHD proteins; cytoskeleton; arrhythmia
25.  A distal axonal cytoskeleton forms an intra-axonal boundary that controls axon initial segment assembly 
Cell  2012;149(5):1125-1139.
SUMMARY
AnkyrinG (ankG) is highly enriched in neurons at axon initial segments (AIS) where it clusters Na+ and K+ channels and maintains neuronal polarity. How ankG becomes concentrated at the AIS is unknown. Here, we show that as neurons break symmetry, they assemble a distal axonal submembranous cytoskeleton comprised of ankyrinB (ankB), αII spectrin, and βII spectrin that defines a boundary limiting ankG to the proximal axon. Experimentally moving this boundary altered the length of ankG staining in the proximal axon, whereas disruption of the boundary through silencing of ankB, αII spectrin, or βII spectrin expression blocked AIS assembly and permitted ankG to redistribute throughout the distal axon. In support of an essential role for the distal cytoskeleton in ankG clustering, we also found that αII and βII spectrin -deficient mice had disrupted AIS. Thus, the distal axonal cytoskeleton functions as an intra-axonal boundary restricting ankG to the AIS.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2012.03.039
PMCID: PMC3361702  PMID: 22632975

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