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Cellular mechanisms of ventricular arrhythmias in a mouse model of Timothy syndrome (long QT syndrome 8)


Ca(2+) flux through l-type CaV1.2 channels shapes the waveform of the ventricular action potential (AP) and is essential for excitation-contraction (EC) coupling. Timothy syndrome (TS) is a disease caused by a gain-of-function mutation in the CaV1.2 channel (CaV1.2-TS) that decreases inactivation of the channel, which increases Ca(2+) influx, prolongs APs, and causes lethal arrhythmias. Although many details of the CaV1.2-TS channels are known, the cellular mechanisms by which they induce arrhythmogenic changes in intracellular Ca(2+) remain unclear. We found that expression of CaV1.2-TS channels increased sarcolemmal Ca(2+) "leak" in resting TS ventricular myocytes. This resulted in higher diastolic [Ca(2+)]i in TS ventricular myocytes compared to WT. Accordingly, TS myocytes had higher sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca(2+) load and Ca(2+) spark activity, larger amplitude [Ca(2+)]i transients, and augmented frequency of Ca(2+) waves. The large SR Ca(2+) release in TS myocytes had a profound effect on the kinetics of CaV1.2 current in these cells, increasing the rate of inactivation to a high, persistent level. This limited the amount of influx during EC coupling in TS myocytes. The relationship between the level of expression of CaV1.2-TS channels and the probability of Ca(2+) wave occurrence was non-linear, suggesting that even low levels of these channels were sufficient to induce maximal changes in [Ca(2+)]i. Depolarization of WT cardiomyocytes with a TS AP waveform increased, but did not equalize [Ca(2+)]i, compared to depolarization of TS myocytes with the same waveform. We propose that CaV1.2-TS channels increase [Ca(2+)] in the cytosol and the SR, creating a Ca(2+)overloaded state that increases the probability of arrhythmogenic spontaneous SR Ca(2+) release.

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