Voltage-gated Na+ (Nav) channels are responsible for the rapid upstroke of the action potential in cardiac cells and play critical roles in controlling action potential durations and propagation. The primary Nav pore- forming (1) subunit in the myocardium is Nav1.5, encoded by SCN5A, and mutations in SCN5A have been linked to a number of cardiac rhythm disorders, including Long QT3 syndrome, Brugada syndrome, cardiac conduction disease, sick sinus syndrome, and atrial fibrillation. Accumulating evidence suggests that myocardial Nav channels function in multimeric protein complexes, comprising one Nav1 subunit, accessory (2) subunits and a number other accessory/regulatory proteins, although the roles of accessory and regulatory proteins in controlling channel expression, properties and subcellular distributions are not well understood. This R21 proposal will test the hypothesis that intracellular fibroblast growth factors (iFGFs) function as novel regulators of myocardial Nav1.5-encoded channels. This hypothesis is motivated by recent preliminary studies demonstrating that iFGF13 is expressed in adult and neonatal (mouse) ventricles and that iFGF13-targeted RNA interference markedly attenuates Nav current densities in (neonatal mouse ventricular) myocytes. There are two related aims in this proposal, and these will be pursued in parallel. Specifically, the studies outlined here will test the hypothesis that iFGF13 selectively regulates ventricular Nav currents and plays a physiological role in the generation of ventricular action potentials (aim #1). Parallel studies will explore the hypothesis that iFGF13 functions to regulate the stability, the trafficking and/or the subcellular localization of Nav1.5-encoded ventricular Nav channels (aim #2). To achieve these aims, the expression of iFGF13 will be manipulated in (mouse) ventricular myocytes in vitro using targeted gene """"""""knockdown"""""""" strategies with small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), and the functional consequences of these manipulations on the properties and the cell surface expression of Nav (and other) channels will be determined. Parallel experiments will be completed on myocytes isolated from mice (Fgf13-/-) harboring a targeted disruption of the Fgf13 locus. It is anticipated that the studies proposed here will provide new and fundamentally important insights into the role(s) of the iFGFs in the dynamic regulation of myocardial Nav channels. In addition, the results of these studies will guide future investigations focused on delineating the molecular, cellular and systemic mechanisms involved in the dynamic regulation of myocardial membrane excitability and in the derangements in cardiac excitability linked to mutations in SCN5A. In the long term, it is anticipated that these studies will provide important new insights into the potential of the iFGFs as therapeutic targets to modulate Nav channel functioning in inherited and acquired cardiac rhythm disorders.
In the heart, voltage-gated sodium Na+ (Nav) channels are responsible for the rapid upstroke of the action potential and play roles in controlling action potential durations and propagation. These channels, therefore, are critical for the generation of normal cardiac rhythms. Changes in Nav channel expression and/or properties are observed in a number of inherited and acquired cardiac diseases, and these changes can have profound physiological consequences, including increasing the risk of potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Accumulating evidence suggests that myocardial Nav channels function as components of macromolecular protein complexes, comprising pore-forming (1) subunits and a variety of accessory (2) subunits, although very little is presently known about the roles of these accessory subunits in the regulation of myocardial Nav channel stability, trafficking and/or properties. Combining in vivo and in vitro molecular genetic strategies with electrophysiological and biochemical approaches, this new research program is focused on defining the physiological role(s) of the novel family of Nav channel regulatory proteins, the intracellular fibroblast growth factors (iFGFs), in the regulation of myocardial Nav channel expression and functioning. These studies will provide new and fundamentally important insights into the physiological roles of the iFGFs in the dynamic regulation of myocardial Nav channels and myocardial membrane excitability. In the long term, these studies are also expected to provide important new insights into the potential of the iFGFs as therapeutic targets to modulate Nav channel functioning in inherited and acquired cardiac rhythm disorders.