Voltage-gated K+ (Kv) currents are differentially distributed across the left ventricular wall. Kv4 currents are larger in left ventricular epicardial (EPI) cells than in endocardial (ENDO) cells. This non-uniform distribution of Kv4 channel function is essential for normal myocardial repolarization. We recently reported that variations in [Ca2+]i are transduced into changes in Kv4 expression through the activation of the Ca2+-sensitive phosphatase calcineurin and the transcription factor NFATc3. This led to our discovery that differential [Ca2+]i/calcineurin/NFATc3 signaling across the left ventricular free wall underlies transmural variations in Kv4 expression. However, the mechanisms underlying regional differences in [Ca2+]j, calcineurin, and NFATc3 signaling are poorly understood. The work proposed in this application employs a series of novel techniques and approaches developed by our group to address these important issues. Our preliminary data suggest that the proposed experiments are not only feasible but will provide new fundamental information regarding Kv channel regulation in the heart. The proposed work addresses three specific hypotheses. First, we will test the hypothesis that regional variations in [Ca2+]j underlie heterogeneous calcineurin activity in the ventricle. Second, we will test the hypothesis that local and global [Ca2+]i signals modulate NFAT translocation and gene expression in ventricular myocytes. We will then use these data to determine how variations in [Ca2+]j signals between ENDO and EPI cells lead to regional differences in NFAT activity. Finally, we will test the hypothesis that calcineurin/NFATc3 signaling is essential for maintaining Kv current heterogeneity in the ventricle. Taken together, this work will provide the first integrated view of calcium signaling, excitability, and contractility in the heart and significantly enhance our understanding of the basic mechanisms, which regulate Kv channel function in health and disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Electrical Signaling, Ion Transport, and Arrhythmias Study Section (ESTA)
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Wang, Lan-Hsiang
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University of Washington
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