Intercalated disc abnormalities, reduced Na(+) current density, and conduction slowing in desmoglein-2 mutant mice prior to cardiomyopathic changes.

Department of Cardiac, Thoracic and Vascular Sciences, University of Padua, Padua 35121, Italy.
Cardiovascular Research (Impact Factor: 5.81). 07/2012; 95(4):409-18. DOI: 10.1093/cvr/cvs219
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Mutations in genes encoding desmosomal proteins have been implicated in the pathogenesis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). However, the consequences of these mutations in early disease stages are unknown. We investigated whether mutation-induced intercalated disc remodelling impacts on electrophysiological properties before the onset of cell death and replacement fibrosis.
Transgenic mice with cardiac overexpression of mutant Desmoglein2 (Dsg2) Dsg2-N271S (Tg-NS/L) were studied before and after the onset of cell death and replacement fibrosis. Mice with cardiac overexpression of wild-type Dsg2 and wild-type mice served as controls. Assessment by electron microscopy established that intercellular space widening at the desmosomes/adherens junctions occurred in Tg-NS/L mice before the onset of necrosis and fibrosis. At this stage, epicardial mapping in Langendorff-perfused hearts demonstrated prolonged ventricular activation time, reduced longitudinal and transversal conduction velocities, and increased arrhythmia inducibility. A reduced action potential (AP) upstroke velocity due to a lower Na(+) current density was also observed at this stage of the disease. Furthermore, co-immunoprecipitation demonstrated an in vivo interaction between Dsg2 and the Na(+) channel protein Na(V)1.5.
Intercellular space widening at the level of the intercalated disc (desmosomes/adherens junctions) and a concomitant reduction in AP upstroke velocity as a consequence of lower Na(+) current density lead to slowed conduction and increased arrhythmia susceptibility at disease stages preceding the onset of necrosis and replacement fibrosis. The demonstration of an in vivo interaction between Dsg2 and Na(V)1.5 provides a molecular pathway for the observed electrical disturbances during the early ARVC stages.

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