Aim In healthy hearts, ventricular gap junctions are mainly composed by connexin43 (Cx43) and localize in the intercalated disc, enabling appropriate electrical coupling. In diseased hearts, Cx43 is heterogeneously down-regulated, whereas activity of calmodulin/calcium-calmodulin protein kinase II (CaM/CaMKII) signalling increases. It is unclear if CaM/CaMKII affects Cx43 expression/localization or impulse propagation. We analysed different models to assess this. Methods and results AC3-I mice with CaMKII genetically inhibited were subjected to pressure overload (16 weeks, TAC vs. sham). Optical and epicardial mapping was performed on Langendorff-perfused rabbit and AC3-I hearts, respectively. Cx43 subcellular distribution from rabbit/mouse ventricles was evaluated by immunoblot after Triton X-100-based fractionation. In mice with constitutively reduced CaMKII activity (AC3-I), conduction velocity (CV) was augmented (n = 11, P < 0.01 vs. WT); in AC3-I, CV was preserved after TAC, in contrast to a reduction seen in TAC-WT mice (-20%). Cx43 expression was preserved after TAC in AC3-I mice, though arrhythmias and fibrosis were still present. In rabbits, W7 (CaM inhibitor, 10 μM) increased CV (6-13%, n= 6, P< 0.05), while susceptibility to arrhythmias decreased. Immunoconfocal microscopy revealed enlarged Cx43 cluster sizes at intercalated discs of those hearts. Total Cx43 did not change by W7 (n= 4), whereas Triton X-100 insoluble Cx43 increased (+21%, n= 4, P< 0.01). Similar findings were obtained in AC3-I mouse hearts when compared with control, and in cultured dog cardiomyocytes. Functional implication was shown through increased intercellular coupling in cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes. Conclusion Both acute and chronic CaM/CaMKII inhibition improves conduction characteristics and enhances localization of Cx43 in the intercalated disc. In the absence of fibrosis, this reduced the susceptibility for arrhythmias.
- Conduction velocity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)