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Circ Res. 2003 Oct 31;93(9):821-8. Epub 2003 Sep 18.

A ubiquitous splice variant and a common polymorphism affect heterologous expression of recombinant human SCN5A heart sodium channels.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin, 600 Highland Ave H6/349, Madison, Wis 53792, USA.


Amino acid sequence variations in SCN5A are known to affect function of wild-type channels and also those with coexisting mutations; therefore, it is important to know the exact sequence and function of channels most commonly present in human myocardium. SCN5A was analyzed in control panels of human alleles, demonstrating that the existing clones (hH1, hH1a, hH1b) each contained a rare variant and thus none represented the common sequence. Confirming prior work, the H558R polymorphism was present in approximately 30% of subjects. Quantitative mRNA analysis from human hearts showed that a shorter 2015 amino acid splice variant lacking glutamine at position 1077 (Q1077del) made up 65% of the transcript in every heart examined. Age, sex, race, or structural heart disease did not affect this proportion of Q1077del. Estimated population frequencies for the four common variants were 25% SCN5A, 10% [H558R], 45% [Q1077del], and 20% [H558R;Q1077del], where the reference sequence SCN5A is GenBank AC137587. When expressed in HEK-293 cells, these common variants had a more positive mid-point of the voltage dependence of inactivation than the standard clone hH1. Also, channels containing Q1077 expressed smaller currents. When H558R was present with Q1077 ([H558R]), current expression was profoundly reduced despite normal trafficking to the cell surface. Thus, four variant sequences for SCN5A are commonly present in human myocardium and they exhibit functional differences among themselves and with the previous standard clone. These results have implications for the choice of background sequence for experiments with heterologous expression systems, and possibly implications for electrophysiological function in vivo.

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