Defects in Ankyrin-Based Membrane Protein Targeting Pathways Underlie Atrial Fibrillation
Background—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.
Methods and Results—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 Ca2+ channels (Cav1.3) responsible for low voltage-activated L-type Ca2+ current. Ankyrin-B is associated directly with Cav1.3, and this interaction is regulated by a short, highly conserved motif specific to Cav1.3. Moreover, loss of ankyrin-B in atrial myocytes results in decreased Cav1.3 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.
Conclusions—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 Cav1.3 channel membrane targeting and regulation in atrial myocytes.
- Received February 2, 2011.
- Accepted July 18, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.