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FASEB J. 2012 Jan;26(1):63-72. doi: 10.1096/fj.10-179770. Epub 2011 Sep 24.

A null mutation of the neuronal sodium channel NaV1.6 disrupts action potential propagation and excitation-contraction coupling in the mouse heart.

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Center for Arrhythmia Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48108, USA.


Evidence supports the expression of brain-type sodium channels in the heart. Their functional role, however, remains controversial. We used global Na(V)1.6-null mice to test the hypothesis that Na(V)1.6 contributes to the maintenance of propagation in the myocardium and to excitation-contraction (EC) coupling. We demonstrated expression of transcripts encoding full-length Na(V)1.6 in isolated ventricular myocytes and confirmed the striated pattern of Na(V)1.6 fluorescence in myocytes. On the ECG, the PR and QRS intervals were prolonged in the null mice, and the Ca(2+) transients were longer in the null cells. Under patch clamping, at holding potential (HP) = -120 mV, the peak I(Na) was similar in both phenotypes. However, at HP = -70 mV, the peak I(Na) was smaller in the nulls. In optical mapping, at 4 mM [K(+)](o), 17 null hearts showed slight (7%) reduction of ventricular conduction velocity (CV) compared to 16 wild-type hearts. At 12 mM [K(+)](o), CV was 25% slower in a subset of 9 null vs. 9 wild-type hearts. These results highlight the importance of neuronal sodium channels in the heart, whereby Na(V)1.6 participates in EC coupling, and represents an intrinsic depolarizing reserve that contributes to excitation.

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