• Chronic Sympathetic Hyperactivity Triggers Electrophysiological Remodeling and Disrupts Excitation-Contraction Coupling in Heart

      Joca, H.C.; Santos-Miranda, A.; Williams, G.S.B. (Nature Research, 2020)
      The sympathetic nervous system is essential for maintenance of cardiac function via activation of post-junctional adrenergic receptors. Prolonged adrenergic receptor activation, however, has deleterious long-term effects leading to hypertrophy and the development of heart failure. Here we investigate the effect of chronic adrenergic receptors activation on excitation-contraction coupling (ECC) in ventricular cardiomyocytes from a previously characterized mouse model of chronic sympathetic hyperactivity, which are genetically deficient in the adrenoceptor α2A and α2C genes (ARDKO). When compared to wild-type (WT) cardiomyocytes, ARDKO displayed reduced fractional shortening (~33%) and slower relaxation (~20%). Furthermore, ARDKO cells exhibited several electrophysiological changes such as action potential (AP) prolongation (~50%), reduced L-type calcium channel (LCC) current (~33%), reduced outward potassium (K+) currents (~30%), and increased sodium/calcium exchanger (NCX) activity (~52%). Consistent with reduced contractility and calcium (Ca2+) currents, the cytosolic Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) transient from ARDKO animals was smaller and decayed slower. Importantly, no changes were observed in membrane resting potential, AP amplitude, or the inward K+ current. Finally, we modified our existing cardiac ECC computational model to account for changes in the ARDKO heart. Simulations suggest that cellular changes in the ARDKO heart resulted in variable and dyssynchronous Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release therefore altering [Ca2+]i transient dynamics and reducing force generation. In conclusion, chronic sympathetic hyperactivity impairs ECC by changing the density of several ionic currents (and thus AP repolarization) causing altered Ca2+ dynamics and contractile activity. This demonstrates the important role of ECC remodeling in the cardiac dysfunction secondary to chronic sympathetic activity. Copyright 2020, The Author(s).
    • Quantitative tests reveal that microtubules tune the healthy heart but underlie arrhythmias in pathology

      Joca, H.C.; Coleman, A.K.; Ward, C.W. (Wiley, 2019)
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    • Voltage sensing mechanism in skeletal muscle excitation-contraction coupling: Coming of age or midlife crisis?

      Hernández-Ochoa, E.O.; Schneider, M.F. (BioMed Central Ltd., 2018)
      The process by which muscle fiber electrical depolarization is linked to activation of muscle contraction is known as excitation-contraction coupling (ECC). Our understanding of ECC has increased enormously since the early scientific descriptions of the phenomenon of electrical activation of muscle contraction by Galvani that date back to the end of the eighteenth century. Major advances in electrical and optical measurements, including muscle fiber voltage clamp to reveal membrane electrical properties, in conjunction with the development of electron microscopy to unveil structural details provided an elegant view of ECC in skeletal muscle during the last century. This surge of knowledge on structural and biophysical aspects of the skeletal muscle was followed by breakthroughs in biochemistry and molecular biology, which allowed for the isolation, purification, and DNA sequencing of the muscle fiber membrane calcium channel/transverse tubule (TT) membrane voltage sensor (Cav1.1) for ECC and of the muscle ryanodine receptor/sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release channel (RyR1), two essential players of ECC in skeletal muscle. In regard to the process of voltage sensing for controlling calcium release, numerous studies support the concept that the TT Cav1.1 channel is the voltage sensor for ECC, as well as also being a Ca2+ channel in the TT membrane. In this review, we present early and recent findings that support and define the role of Cav1.1 as a voltage sensor for ECC. © 2018 The Author(s).