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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2019 Feb 27. pii: S0079-6107(18)30263-3. doi: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2019.02.003. [Epub ahead of print]

The influence of hERG1a and hERG1b isoforms on drug safety screening in iPSC-CMs.

Author information

1
Department of Medical Physiology, Division Heart & Lungs, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands.
2
Department of Medical Physiology, Division Heart & Lungs, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands; Bioscience Heart Failure, Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Diseases, IMED Biotech Unit, AstraZeneca, Gothenburg, Sweden.
3
Department of Medical Physiology, Division Heart & Lungs, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands. Electronic address: t.p.deboer@umcutrecht.nl.

Abstract

The human Ether-à-go-go Related Gene (hERG) encodes the pore forming subunit of the channel that conducts the rapid delayed rectifier potassium current IKr. IKr drives repolarization in the heart and when IKr is dysfunctional, cardiac repolarization delays, the QT interval on the electrocardiogram (ECG) prolongs and the risk of developing lethal arrhythmias such as Torsade de Pointes (TdP) increases. TdP risk is incorporated in drug safety screening for cardiotoxicity where hERG is the main target since the IKr channels appear highly sensitive to blockage. hERG block is also included as an important read-out in the Comprehensive in Vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative which aims to combine in vitro and in silico experiments on induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) to screen for cardiotoxicity. However, the hERG channel has some unique features to consider for drug safety screening, which we will discuss in this study. The hERG channel consists of different isoforms, hERG1a and hERG1b, which individually influence the kinetics of the channel and the drug response in the human heart and in iPSC-CMs. hERG1b is often underappreciated in iPSC-CM studies, drug screening assays and in silico models, and the fact that its contribution might substantially differ between iPSC-CM and healthy but also diseased human heart, adds to this problem. In this study we show that the activation kinetics in iPSC-CMs resemble hERG1b kinetics using Cs+ as a charge carrier. Not including hERG1b in drug safety testing might underestimate the actual role of hERG1b in repolarization and drug response, and might lead to inappropriate conclusions. We stress to focus more on including hERG1b in drug safety testing concerning IKr.

KEYWORDS:

Isoforms; Safety pharmacology; hERG; iPSC-CMs

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