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Defects in ankyrin-based membrane protein targeting pathways underlie atrial fibrillation.

Cunha S.R., Hund T.J., Hashemi S., Voigt N., Li N., Wright P., Koval O., Li J., Gudmundsson H., Gumina R.J., Karck M., Schott J.J., Probst V., Le Marec H., Anderson M.E., Dobrev D., Wehrens X.H., Mohler P.J.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, affecting >2 million patients in the United States alone. Despite decades of research, surprisingly little is known regarding the molecular pathways underlying the pathogenesis of AF. ANK2 encodes ankyrin-B, a multifunctional adapter molecule implicated in membrane targeting of ion channels, transporters, and signaling molecules in excitable cells.In the present study, we report early-onset AF in patients harboring loss-of-function mutations in ANK2. In mice, we show that ankyrin-B deficiency results in atrial electrophysiological dysfunction and increased susceptibility to AF. Moreover, ankyrin-B(+/-) atrial myocytes display shortened action potentials, consistent with human AF. Ankyrin-B is expressed in atrial myocytes, and we demonstrate its requirement for the membrane targeting and function of a subgroup of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels (Ca(v)1.3) responsible for low voltage-activated L-type Ca(2+) current. Ankyrin-B is associated directly with Ca(v)1.3, and this interaction is regulated by a short, highly conserved motif specific to Ca(v)1.3. Moreover, loss of ankyrin-B in atrial myocytes results in decreased Ca(v)1.3 expression, membrane localization, and function sufficient to produce shortened atrial action potentials and arrhythmias. Finally, we demonstrate reduced ankyrin-B expression in atrial samples of patients with documented AF, further supporting an association between ankyrin-B and AF.These findings support that reduced ankyrin-B expression or mutations in ANK2 are associated with AF. Additionally, our data demonstrate a novel pathway for ankyrin-B-dependent regulation of Ca(v)1.3 channel membrane targeting and regulation in atrial myocytes.

Circulation 124:1212-1222(2011) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]