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Channels (Austin). 2010 Sep-Oct;4(5):375-89. doi: 10.4161/chan.4.5.12874. Epub 2010 Sep 1.

Splice-variant changes of the Ca(V)3.2 T-type calcium channel mediate voltage-dependent facilitation and associate with cardiac hypertrophy and development.

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University of British Columbia, Canada.


Low voltage-activated T-type calcium (Ca) channels contribute to the normal development of the heart and are also implicated in pathophysiological states such as cardiac hypertrophy. Functionally distinct T-type Ca channel isoforms can be generated by alternative splicing from each of three different T-type genes (Ca(V)3.1, Ca(V)3.2,Ca(V)3.3), although it remains to be described whether specific splice variants are associated with developmental states and pathological conditions. We aimed to identify and functionally characterize Ca(V)3.2 T-type Ca channel alternatively spliced variants from newborn animals and to compare with adult normotensive and spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). DNA sequence analysis of full-length Ca(V)3.2 cDNA generated from newborn heart tissue identified ten major regions of alternative splicing, the more common variants of which were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and also subject to functional examination by whole-cell patch clamp. The main findings are that: (1) cardiac Ca(V)3.2 T-type Ca channels are subject to considerable alternative splicing, (2) there is preferential expression of Ca(V)3.2(-25) splice variant channels in newborn rat heart with a developmental shift in adult heart that results in approximately equal levels of expression of both (+25) and (-25) exon variants, (3) in the adult stage of hypertensive rats there is a both an increase in overall Ca(V)3.2 expression and a shift towards expression of Ca(V)3.2(+25) containing channels as the predominant form, and (4) alternative splicing confers a variant-specific voltage-dependent facilitation of Ca(V)3.2 channels. We conclude that Ca(V)3.2 alternative splicing generates significant T-type Ca channel structural and functional diversity with potential implications relevant to cardiac developmental and pathophysiological states.

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