Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

Disruption of mitochondria–sarcoplasmic reticulum microdomain connectomics contributes to sinus node dysfunction in heart failure


The sinoatrial node (SAN), the leading pacemaker region, generates electrical impulses that propagate throughout the heart. SAN dysfunction with bradyarrhythmia is well documented in heart failure (HF). However, the underlying mechanisms are not completely understood. Mitochondria are critical to cellular processes that determine the life or death of the cell. The release of Ca2+ from the ryanodine receptors 2 (RyR2) on the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) at mitochondria-SR microdomains serves as the critical communication to match energy production to meet metabolic demands. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that alterations in the mitochondria-SR connectomics contribute to SAN dysfunction in HF. We took advantage of a mouse model of chronic pressure overload-induced HF by transverse aortic constriction (TAC) and a SAN-specific CRISPR-Cas9-mediated knockdown of mitofusin-2 (Mfn2), the mitochondria-SR tethering GTPase protein. TAC mice exhibited impaired cardiac function with HF, cardiac fibrosis, and profound SAN dysfunction. Ultrastructural imaging using electron microscope (EM) tomography revealed abnormal mitochondrial structure with increased mitochondria-SR distance. The expression of Mfn2 was significantly down-regulated and showed reduced colocalization with RyR2 in HF SAN cells. Indeed, SAN-specific Mfn2 knockdown led to alterations in the mitochondria-SR microdomains and SAN dysfunction. Finally, disruptions in the mitochondria-SR microdomains resulted in abnormal mitochondrial Ca2+ handling, alterations in localized protein kinase A (PKA) activity, and impaired mitochondrial function in HF SAN cells. The current study provides insights into the role of mitochondria-SR microdomains in SAN automaticity and possible therapeutic targets for SAN dysfunction in HF patients.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View