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Kcne2 Deletion Creates a Multisystem Syndrome Predisposing to Sudden Cardiac Death



Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the leading global cause of mortality, exhibiting increased incidence in patients with diabetes mellitus. Ion channel gene perturbations provide a well-established ventricular arrhythmogenic substrate for SCD. However, most arrhythmia-susceptibility genes, including the KCNE2 K(+) channel β subunit, are expressed in multiple tissues, suggesting potential multiplex SCD substrates.

Methods and results

Using whole-transcript transcriptomics, we uncovered cardiac angiotensinogen upregulation and remodeling of cardiac angiotensinogen interaction networks in P21 Kcne2(-/-) mouse pups and adrenal remodeling consistent with metabolic syndrome in adult Kcne2(-/-) mice. This led to the discovery that Kcne2 disruption causes multiple acknowledged SCD substrates of extracardiac origin: diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, hyperkalemia, anemia, and elevated angiotensin II. Kcne2 deletion was also a prerequisite for aging-dependent QT prolongation, ventricular fibrillation and SCD immediately after transient ischemia, and fasting-dependent hypoglycemia, myocardial ischemia, and AV block.


Disruption of a single, widely expressed arrhythmia-susceptibility gene can generate a multisystem syndrome comprising manifold electric and systemic substrates and triggers of SCD. This paradigm is expected to apply to other arrhythmia-susceptibility genes, the majority of which encode ubiquitously expressed ion channel subunits or regulatory proteins.

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