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Cell Calcium. 2003 Jul;34(1):19-26.

Cardiac excitation-contraction coupling in the absence of Na(+) - Ca2+ exchange.

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Departments of Physiology and Medicine and the Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, MRL 3-645, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1760, USA.


We investigate cardiac excitation-contraction coupling in the absence of sarcolemmal Na(+) - Ca(2+) exchange using NCX1 knock out mice. Knock out of NCX1 is embryonic lethal, and we measure Ca(2+) transients and contractions in heart tubes from embryos at day 9.5 post coitum. Immunoblot and electron microscopy both indicate that sarcoplasmic reticular membranes are diminished in the knock out (NCX(-/-)) heart tubes. Both Ni(2+) and nifedipine block excitation-contraction coupling in NCX-containing (NCX+) and NCX(-/-) heart tubes indicating an essential role for the L-type Ca(2+) current. Under basal conditions (1Hz stimulation), the NCX(-/-) heart tubes have normal Ca(2+) transients but are unable to maintain homeostasis when Ca(2+) fluxes are increased by various interventions (increased stimulation frequency, caffeine, isoproterenol). In each case, the NCX(-/-) heart tubes respond to the intervention in a more deleterious manner (increased diastolic Ca(2+), decreased Ca(2+) transient) than the NCX+ heart tubes. Expression of the sarcolemmal Ca(2+) pump was not upregulated. The sarcolemmal Ca(2+) pump, however, was able to compensate surprisingly well for the absence of Na(+) - Ca(2+) exchange under basal conditions.

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