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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 Dec;70(24):4695-710. doi: 10.1007/s00018-013-1410-5. Epub 2013 Jul 12.

The transverse-axial tubular system of cardiomyocytes.

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Division of Physiology, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.


A characteristic histological feature of striated muscle cells is the presence of deep invaginations of the plasma membrane (sarcolemma), most commonly referred to as T-tubules or the transverse-axial tubular system (TATS). TATS mediates the rapid spread of the electrical signal (action potential) to the cell core triggering Ca(2+) release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, ultimately inducing myofilament contraction (excitation-contraction coupling). T-tubules, first described in vertebrate skeletal muscle cells, have also been recognized for a long time in mammalian cardiac ventricular myocytes, with a structure and a function that in recent years have been shown to be far more complex and pivotal for cardiac function than initially thought. Renewed interest in T-tubule function stems from the loss and disorganization of T-tubules found in a number of pathological conditions including human heart failure (HF) and dilated and hypertrophic cardiomyopathies, as well as in animal models of HF, chronic ischemia and atrial fibrillation. Disease-related remodeling of the TATS leads to asynchronous and inhomogeneous Ca(2+)-release, due to the presence of orphan ryanodine receptors that have lost their coupling with the dihydropyridine receptors and are either not activated or activated with a delay. Here, we review the physiology of the TATS, focusing first on the relationship between function and structure, and then describing T-tubular remodeling and its reversal in disease settings and following effective therapeutic approaches.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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