Expression and distribution of voltage-gated ion channels in ferret sinoatrial node.

Physiological genomics

PubMedID: 20682846

Brahmajothi MV, Morales MJ, Campbell DL, Steenbergen C, Strauss HC. Expression and distribution of voltage-gated ion channels in ferret sinoatrial node. Physiol Genomics. 2010;42A(2):131-40.
Spontaneous diastolic depolarization in the sinoatrial (SA) node enables it to serve as pacemaker of the heart. The variable cell morphology within the SA node predicts that ion channel expression would be heterogeneous and different from that in the atrium. To evaluate ion channel heterogeneity within the SA node, we used fluorescent in situ hybridization to examine ion channel expression in the ferret SA node region and atrial appendage. SA nodal cells were distinguished from surrounding cardiac myocytes by expression of the slow (SA node) and cardiac (surrounding tissue) forms of troponin I. Nerve cells in the sections were identified by detection of GAP-43 and cytoskeletal middle neurofilament. Transcript expression was characterized for the 4 hyperpolarization-activated cation channels, 6 voltage-gated Na(+) channels, 3 voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels, 24 voltage-gated K(+) channel a-subunits, and 3 ancillary subunits. To ensure that transcript expression was representative of protein expression, immunofluorescence was used to verify localization patterns of voltage-dependent K(+) channels. Colocalizations were performed to observe any preferential patterns. Some overlapping and nonoverlapping binding patterns were observed. Measurement of different cation channel transcripts showed heterogeneous expression with many different patterns of expression, attesting to the complexity of electrical activity in the SA node. This study provides insight into the possible role ion channel heterogeneity plays in SA node pacemaker activity.