The Cardiac hERG/IKr Potassium Channel as Pharmacological Target: Structure, Function, Regulation, and Clinical Applications

Department of Cardiology, Medical University Hospital Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 410, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
Current Pharmaceutical Design (Impact Factor: 3.45). 02/2006; 12(18):2271-83. DOI: 10.2174/138161206777585102
Source: PubMed


Human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) potassium channels conduct the rapid component of the delayed rectifier potassium current, IKr, which is crucial for repolarization of cardiac action potentials. Moderate hERG blockade may produce a beneficial class III antiarrhythmic effect. In contrast, a reduction in hERG currents due to either genetic defects or adverse drug effects can lead to hereditary or acquired long QT syndromes characterized by action potential prolongation, lengthening of the QT interval on the surface ECG, and an increased risk for "torsade de pointes" arrhythmias and sudden death. This undesirable side effect of non-antiarrhythmic compounds has prompted the withdrawal of several blockbuster drugs from the market. Studies on mechanisms of hERG channel inhibition provide significant insights into the molecular factors that determine state-, voltage-, and use-dependency of hERG current block. In addition, crucial properties of the high-affinity drug binding site in hERG and its interaction with drug molecules have been identified, providing the basis for more refined approaches in drug design, safety pharmacology and in silico modeling. Recently, mutations in hERG have been shown to cause current increase and hereditary short QT syndrome with a high risk for life-threatening arrhythmias. Finally, the discovery of adrenergic mechanisms of hERG channel regulation as well as the development of strategies to enhance hERG currents and to modify intracellular hERG protein processing may provide novel antiarrhythmic options in repolarization disorders. In conclusion, the increasing understanding of hERG channel function and molecular mechanisms of hERG current regulation could improve prevention and treatment of hERG-associated cardiac repolarization disorders.

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    • "The human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) encodes the poreforming subunit of the channel protein responsible for the rapidly activating delayed rectifier K + current, I Kr , which is crucial for terminal repolarization in the heart [1]. Reduction of hERG currents caused by mutations or drug-induced blockade of hERG channel produces hereditary or acquired long QT syndrome, a potentially lethal repolarization disorder associated with syncope, torsade de points arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death [2] [3] [4] [5]. In addition, hERG channel dysfunction is associated with heart diseases such as myocardial infarction, heart failure and atrial fibrillation [6] [7]. "
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the effects of AT1 receptor stimulation by angiotensin II (Ang II) on human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) potassium channel protein in a heterogeneous expression system with the human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells which stably expressed hERG channel protein and were transiently transfected with the human AT1 receptors (HEK293/hERG). Western-blot analysis showed that Ang II significantly decreased the expression of mature hERG channel protein (155-kDa band) in a time- and dose-dependent manner without affecting the level of immature hERG channel protein (135-kDa band). The relative intensity of 155-kDa band was 64.7 ± 6.8% of control (P < 0.01) after treatment of Ang II at 100 nM for 24 h. To investigate the effect of Ang II on the degradation of mature hERG channel protein, we blocked forward trafficking from ER to Golgi with a Golgi transit inhibitor brefeldin A (10 μM). Ang II significantly enhanced the time-dependent reduction of mature hERG channel protein. In addition, the proteasomal inhibitor lactacystin (5 μM) inhibited Ang II-mediated the reduction of mature hERG channel protein, but the lysosomal inhibitor bafilomycin A1 (1 μM) had no effect on the protein. The protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor bisindolylmaleimide 1 (1 μM) antagonized the reduction of mature hERG channel protein induced by Ang II. The results indicate that sustained stimulation of AT1 receptors by Ang II reduces the mature hERG channel protein via accelerating channel proteasomal degradation involving the PKC pathway.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2014 · Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
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    • "LQTS can be classified as acquired and inherited though genetic predisposition also plays a role in some of the acquired forms[7]. In general, acquired LQTS can be resolved by removing the causes, whereas inherited LQTS is permanent due to mutations of genes encoding or regulating cardiac potassium, sodium and calcium ion channels[8] [9] [10]. To date, over 1000 mutations in more than 15 genes have been reported to cause LQTS with the vast majority as LQT1-3[11] [12] [13]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective Patients with inherited long QT syndrome (LQTS) are prone to torsade de pointes and sudden death (SD). Identifying affected individuals is important for SD prevention. This study aimed to determine the cause and genotype-phenotype characteristics of LQTS in a large Omani family. Methods Upon LQTS diagnosis of a 5-year-old girl (proband), targeted mutation screening was performed based on the gene-specific ECG pattern identified in her mother. ECG-guided family genotyping was conducted for identifying additional affected individuals. Results ECGs of the proband demonstrated 2:1 AV block, incomplete right bundle branch block (IRBBB) and markedly prolonged QTc (571-638 ms) with bizarre T waves. Cardiac imaging revealed dilatation of the ascending aorta and pulmonary artery, and left ventricular non-compaction. Her parents were first cousins. Both showed mild QT prolongation, with the mother presenting a LQT2 T wave pattern and the father IRBBB. Targeted KCNH2 screening identified a novel homozygous frameshift mutation p.T1019Pfs × 38 in the proband within 72-hour. Family genotyping uncovered 3 concealed LQT2 and confirmed 11 members showing LQT2 ECG patterns as heterozygous mutation carriers. All heterozygous carriers were asymptomatic, with 71% showing normal to borderline prolonged QTc (458 ± 33 ms, range 409-522 ms). Conclusion p.T1019Pfs × 38, a novel KCNH2 mutation, has been identified in a large LQTS family in Oman. Consanguineous marriages resulted in a homozygous with severe LQTS. ECG-guided phenotyping and genotyping achieved a high efficiency. Genetic testing is essential in identifying concealed LQTS. Further investigation is warranted to determine if there is a causative relationship between homozygous p.T1019Pfs × 38 and cardiovascular anomaly.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · IJC Heart and Vessels
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    • "Doxazosin and other hERG K+ channel ligands impair protein expression by selective disruption of hERG trafficking into the cell surface membrane [10], [11], [15]. This mechanism of action occurs mechanistically independent of acute hERG current blockade, a well-established class III antiarrhythmic mode of action and pro-arrhythmic property of several non-antiarrhythmic compounds [30]. The presence of independent drug-channel interaction sites for inhibition of hERG forward trafficking and acute blockade is supported by the observation that certain compounds induce current block with little or no trafficking inhibition (and vice versa) [10], [20]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Glioblastoma (GB) is associated with poor patient survival owing to uncontrolled tumor proliferation and resistance to apoptosis. Human ether-a-go-go-related gene K(+) channels (hERG; Kv11.1, KCNH2) are expressed in multiple cancer cells including GB and control cell proliferation and death. We hypothesized that pharmacological targeting of hERG protein would inhibit tumor growth by inducing apoptosis of GB cells. The small molecule hERG ligand doxazosin induced concentration-dependent apoptosis of human LNT-229 (EC50 = 35 µM) and U87MG (EC50 = 29 µM) GB cells, accompanied by cell cycle arrest in the G0/G1 phase. Apoptosis was associated with 64% reduction of hERG protein. HERG suppression via siRNA-mediated knock down mimicked pro-apoptotic effects of doxazosin. Antagonism of doxazosin binding by the non-apoptotic hERG ligand terazosin resulted in rescue of protein expression and in increased survival of GB cells. At the molecular level doxazosin-dependent apoptosis was characterized by activation of pro-apoptotic factors (phospho-erythropoietin-producing human hepatocellular carcinoma receptor tyrosine kinase A2, phospho-p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, growth arrest and DNA damage inducible gene 153, cleaved caspases 9, 7, and 3), and by inactivation of anti-apoptotic poly-ADP-ribose-polymerase, respectively. In summary, this work identifies doxazosin as small molecule compound that promotes apoptosis and exerts anti-proliferative effects in human GB cells. Suppression of hERG protein is a crucial molecular event in GB cell apoptosis. Doxazosin and future derivatives are proposed as novel options for more effective GB treatment.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · PLoS ONE
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