Key pointsPrevailing dogma holds that activation of the β-adrenergic receptor/cAMP/protein kinase A signalling pathway leads to enhanced L-type CaV 1.2 channel activity, resulting in increased Ca2+ influx into ventricular myocytes and a positive inotropic response. However, the full mechanistic and molecular details underlying this phenomenon are incompletely understood. CaV 1.2 channel clusters decorate T-tubule sarcolemmas of ventricular myocytes. Within clusters, nanometer proximity between channels permits Ca2+ -dependent co-operative gating behaviour mediated by physical interactions between adjacent channel C-terminal tails. We report that stimulation of cardiomyocytes with isoproterenol, evokes dynamic, protein kinase A-dependent augmentation of CaV 1.2 channel abundance along cardiomyocyte T-tubules, resulting in the appearance of channel 'super-clusters', and enhanced channel co-operativity that amplifies Ca2+ influx. On the basis of these data, we suggest a new model in which a sub-sarcolemmal pool of pre-synthesized CaV 1.2 channels resides in cardiomyocytes and can be mobilized to the membrane in times of high haemodynamic or metabolic demand, to tune excitation-contraction coupling.
AbstractVoltage-dependent L-type CaV 1.2 channels play an indispensable role in cardiac excitation-contraction coupling. Activation of the β-adrenergic receptor (βAR)/cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) signalling pathway leads to enhanced CaV 1.2 activity, resulting in increased Ca2+ influx into ventricular myocytes and a positive inotropic response. CaV 1.2 channels exhibit a clustered distribution along the T-tubule sarcolemma of ventricular myocytes where nanometer proximity between channels permits Ca2+ -dependent co-operative gating behaviour mediated by dynamic, physical, allosteric interactions between adjacent channel C-terminal tails. This amplifies Ca2+ influx and augments myocyte Ca2+ transient and contraction amplitudes. We investigated whether βAR signalling could alter CaV 1.2 channel clustering to facilitate co-operative channel interactions and elevate Ca2+ influx in ventricular myocytes. Bimolecular fluorescence complementation experiments reveal that the βAR agonist, isoproterenol (ISO), promotes enhanced CaV 1.2-CaV 1.2 physical interactions. Super-resolution nanoscopy and dynamic channel tracking indicate that these interactions are expedited by enhanced spatial proximity between channels, resulting in the appearance of CaV 1.2 'super-clusters' along the z-lines of ISO-stimulated cardiomyocytes. The mechanism that leads to super-cluster formation involves rapid, dynamic augmentation of sarcolemmal CaV 1.2 channel abundance after ISO application. Optical and electrophysiological single channel recordings confirm that these newly inserted channels are functional and contribute to overt co-operative gating behaviour of CaV 1.2 channels in ISO stimulated myocytes. The results of the present study reveal a new facet of βAR-mediated regulation of CaV 1.2 channels in the heart and support the novel concept that a pre-synthesized pool of sub-sarcolemmal CaV 1.2 channel-containing vesicles/endosomes resides in cardiomyocytes and can be mobilized to the sarcolemma to tune excitation-contraction coupling to meet metabolic and/or haemodynamic demands.