Opening of the primary cardiac sodium channel, encoded by SCN5A, is responsible for rapid myocyte depolarization that initiates the cardiac cycle and underlies fast conduction in the heart. Mutations in the gene have been associated with a range of phenotypes, including long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, conduction disease, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and atrial fibrillation. Out of hundreds of mutations linked to these disease states, only a handful have been clearly associated with DCM and heart failure and the underlying mechanisms are not understood. This proposal builds on our work establishing murine models of sodium channel-related disease to test the overall hypothesis that SCN5A mutations initiate the DCM phenotype through mechanisms directly related to electrophysiologic dysfunction; notably, this distinguishes SCN5A-related DCM from other forms of the disease. In mice with D1275N, a mutation associated with human DCM, our major findings are decreased peak sodium current, near normal gating, striking conduction delay by ECG and optical mapping, decreased abundance of the channel protein especially along the lateral myocyte border, and age-dependent development of DCM. By contrast, other mouse lines with equivalent or greater decreases in peak sodium current do not display conduction abnormalities or DCM. Accordingly, in Specific Aim 1, we will test multiple competing hypotheses to explain this apparent paradox: specific experiments will address the roles of intracellular ionic homeostasis versus abnormalities in conduction, and their underlying mechanisms, as generators of the DCM phenotype. Unlike D1275N, the DCM-associated R222Q mutation displays striking gating changes in vitro and patients display very frequent drug-sensitive ventricular ectopic activity and develop DCM.
In Specific Aim 2, we will contrast mechanisms whereby R222Q and D1275N cause DCM and test the hypothesis that suppression of ectopic activity improves or reverses the DCM phenotype. Heart failure affects more that 4 million people in the United States and studies to identify molecular subsets represent an important step to tailoring mechanism-based therapy.

Public Health Relevance

Heart failure affects more than 4 million people in the United States; with health care costs above $30 billion a year and is a leading cause of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. This proposal addresses the mechanisms of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and heart failure as a result of mutations in SCN5A; a gene known to play a role in heart rhythm control and more recently implicated in DCM.

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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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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