A distinct molecular mechanism by which phenytoin rescues a novel long QT 3 variant
BACKGROUND:channel blockers can vary. We previously reported a case of an infant with malignant LQT3 and a missense Q1475P SCN5A variant, who was effectively treated with phenytoin, but only partially with mexiletine. Here, we functionally characterized this variant and investigated possible mechanisms for the differential drug actions. METHODS:1.5 cDNAs were examined in transfected HEK293 cells with patch clamping and biochemical assays. We used computational modeling to provide insights into altered channel kinetics and to predict effects on the action potential. RESULTS:1.5-Q1475P trafficking defect, thus increasing mutant channel expression. CONCLUSIONS:1.5-Q1475P predominate to cause a malignant long QT phenotype. Phenytoin partially corrects the gating defect without restoring surface expression of the mutant channel, whereas mexiletine restores surface expression of the mutant channel, which may explain the lack of efficacy of mexiletine when compared to phenytoin. Our data makes a case for experimental studies before embarking on a one-for-all therapy of arrhythmias.
Ankyrin-G mediates targeting of both Na+ and KATP channels to the rat cardiac intercalated disc
We investigated targeting mechanisms of Na+ and KATP channels to the intercalated disk (ICD) of cardiomyocytes. Patch clamp and surface biotinylation data show reciprocal downregulation of each other's surface density. Mutagenesis of the Kir6.2 ankyrin binding site disrupts this functional coupling. Duplex patch clamping and Angle SICM recordings show that INa and IKATP functionally co-localize at the rat ICD, but not at the lateral membrane. Quantitative STORM imaging show that Na+ and KATP channels are localized close to each other and to AnkG, but not to AnkB, at the ICD. Peptides corresponding to Nav1.5 and Kir6.2 ankyrin binding sites dysregulate targeting of both Na+ and KATP channels to the ICD, but not to lateral membranes. Finally, a clinically relevant gene variant that disrupts KATP channel trafficking also regulates Na+ channel surface expression. The functional coupling between these two channels need to be considered when assessing clinical variants and therapeutics.
Functional significance of channelopathy gene variants in unexplained death
Determining the cause of unexplained death in all age groups, including infants, is a priority in forensic medicine. The triple risk model proposed for sudden infant death syndrome involves the intersection of three risks: (1) a critical developmental period in homeostatic control (2), exogenous stressors, and (3) a vulnerable infant. Even though sex and age factor into some forms of inherited arrhythmogenic deaths in young individuals and adults, more appropriate a dual-risk disease model for adults involves exogenous stressors and a vulnerable individual. The vulnerability aspect clearly has a genetic component as underscored by a number of recent large-scale and high-throughput genetic testing studies performed in attempt to define the causes of sudden unexplained death. These studies often focus on 'cardiac' and channelopathy genes. Genetic testing often identify lists of rare or ultra-rare nonsynonymous variants, classified according to the ACMG guidelines as 'pathogenic' or 'likely pathogenic', which may form the basis of diagnostic decisions and/or family counseling. However, computer algorithms used to categorize gene variants are not completely accurate and these variants are often not functionally tested to determine their pathogenicity. Due to conflicting computational predictions, a large number of variants are labeled as 'variants of uncertain significance' or VUS. Functional testing of these VUS can greatly assist to reclassify these VUS as 'likely benign' or 'likely pathogenic'. However, functional testing has its limits and by itself cannot be used to determine cause of death. Going forward, computer algorithms must be improved to take account of variants across multiple genes and efforts must be expanded to obtain clinical, familial and segregation data. Forensic genetic testing needs to be held to the same rigorous standards as defined by the NIH Clinical Genome Resource Consortium, where functional evaluation of a channelopathy variant is only one (but important) aspect of the overall picture.
Functional characterization of SCN10A variants in several cases of sudden unexplained death
BACKGROUND:Multiple genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and targeted gene sequencing have identified common variants in SCN10A in cases of PR and QRS duration abnormalities, atrial fibrillation and Brugada syndrome. The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner has now also identified five SCN10A variants of uncertain significance in six separate cases within a cohort of 330 sudden unexplained death events. The gene product of SCN10A is the Nav1.8 sodium channel. The purpose of this study was to characterize effects of these variants on Nav1.8 channel function to provide better information for the reclassification of these variants. METHODS AND RESULTS/RESULTS:Patch clamp studies were performed to assess effects of the variants on whole-cell Nav1.8 currents. We also performed RNA-seq analysis and immunofluorescence confocal microcopy to determine Nav1.8 expression in heart. We show that four of the five rare 'variants of unknown significance' (L388M, L867F, P1102S and V1518I) are associated with altered functional phenotypes. The R756W variant behaved similar to wild-type under our experimental conditions. We failed to detect Nav1.8 protein expression in immunofluorescence microscopy in rat heart. Furthermore, RNA-seq analysis failed to detect full-length SCN10A mRNA transcripts in human ventricle or mouse specialized cardiac conduction system, suggesting that the effect of Nav1.8 on cardiac function is likely to be extra-cardiac in origin. CONCLUSIONS:We have demonstrated that four of five SCN10A variants of uncertain significance, identified in unexplained death, have deleterious effects on channel function. These data extend the genetic testing of SUD cases, but significantly more clinical evidence is needed to satisfy the criteria needed to associate these variants with the onset of SUD.
Eye on ion channels in immune cells
Ion channels facilitate the movement of ions across the plasma and organellar membranes. A recent symposium brought together scientists who study ion channels and transporters in immune cells, which highlighted advances in this emerging field and served to chart new avenues for investigating the roles of ion channels in immunity.
Functional characterization of ABCC9 variants identified in sudden unexpected natural death
BACKGROUND:Genetic variation in ion channel genes ('channelopathies') are often associated with inherited arrhythmias and sudden death. Genetic testing ('molecular autopsies') of channelopathy genes can be used to assist in determining the likely causes of sudden unexpected death. However, different in silico approaches can yield conflicting pathogenicity predictions and assessing their impact on ion channel function can assist in this regard. METHODS AND RESULTS/RESULTS:channels, as determined with biotinylation assays, suggesting that all of the variants led to an enhanced open state. CONCLUSIONS:channels in the heart and specialized cardiac conduction, vascular smooth muscle and respiratory neurons, it is conceivable that electrical silencing of these cells may contribute to the vulnerability element, which is a component of the triple risk model of sudden explained death in infants. The gain-of-function phenotype of these ABCC9 variants should be considered when assessing their potential pathogenicity.
Functional reclassification of variants of uncertain significance in the HCN4 gene identified in sudden unexpected death
The HCN4 gene encodes a subunit of the hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channel, type 4 that is essential for the proper generation of pacemaker potentials in the sinoatrial node. The HCN4 gene is often present in targeted genetic testing panels for various cardiac conduction system disorders and there are several reports of HCN4 variants associated with conduction disorders. Here, we report the in vitro functional characterization of four rare variants of uncertain significance (VUS) in HCN4, identified through testing a cohort of 296 sudden unexpected natural deaths. The variants are all missense alterations, leading to single amino acid changes: p.E66Q in the N-terminus, p.D546N in the C-linker domain, and both p.S935Y and p.R1044Q in the C-terminus distal to the CNBD. We also identified a likely benign variant, p. P1063T, which has a high minor allele frequency in the gnomAD, which is utilized here as a negative control. Three of the HCN4 VUS (p.E66Q, p.S935Y, and p.R1044Q) had electrophysiological characteristics similar to the wild-type channel, suggesting that these variants are benign. In contrast, the p.D546N variant in the C-linker domain exhibited a larger current density, slower activation, and was unresponsive to cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) compared to wild-type. With functional assays, we reclassified three rare HCN4 VUS to likely benign variants, eliminating the necessity for costly and time-consuming further study. Our studies also provide a new lead to investigate how a VUS located in the C-linker connecting the pore to the cAMP binding domain may affect the channel open state probability and cAMP response.
Functional characterization of TRPM4 variants identified in sudden unexpected natural death
BACKGROUND:-activated nonselective cation channel, which is enriched in the specialized cardiac conduction system and Purkinje fibers. To date, several putative disease-causing variants in TRPM4 have been reported to be associated with cardiac arrhythmia and progressive conduction disease. Here, we report the functional effects of previously uncharacterized variants of uncertain significance (VUS) that we have found while performing a "genetic autopsy" in individuals who have suffered sudden unexpected death (SUD) in the New York City area. METHODS AND RESULTS/RESULTS:We have identified thirteen uncommon missense VUS in TRPM4 by testing 95 targeted genes implicated in channelopathy and cardiomyopathy in 330 cases of SUD. In several cases there were co-existing VUS in one or more other genes that were tested. We selected four TRPM4 VUS (C20S, A380V, L595V and I1082S) for functional characterization, since these cases lacked detectable variants in other genes of our testing panel. Two of the cases were infants, one was a child and one an adult. RNA-seq data analysis showed that the longer TRPM4b splice variant is predominantly expressed in adult and fetal human heart. We therefore used site-directed mutagenesis to introduce these variants in a TRPM4b cDNA. HEK293 cells were transfected with the cDNAs and patch clamping was performed to assess the functional consequences of the TRPM4 mutants. The TRPM4 current was recorded in excised patches and was significantly reduced by each of the mutants. The total protein level of TRPM4-C20S was markedly decreased, whereas the A380V and L595V mutants exhibited decreased surface expression. The TRPM4-A380V current rapidly desensitized following patch excision. CONCLUSIONS:Each of the VUS tested caused a defect in TRPM4 channel function via distinctly different mechanisms, hence, it lays the foundation for further co-segregation family studies and animal studies of the TRPM4 variants.
Molecular autopsy: using the discovery of a novel de novo pathogenic variant in the KCNH2 gene to inform healthcare of surviving family
Background/UNASSIGNED:pathogenic variant in a decedent. Methods/UNASSIGNED:Forensic investigation and molecular autopsy were performed on an 18-year-old female who died suddenly and unexpectedly. Co-segregation family study of the first-degree relatives and functional characterization of the variant were conducted. Findings/UNASSIGNED:arose de novo, which eliminated the need for exhaustive genome testing and annual cardiac follow-up for the parents and four siblings. Interpretation/UNASSIGNED:Molecular testing enables accurate determination of natural causes of death and precision care of the surviving family members in a time and cost-saving manner. We advocate for molecular autopsy being included under the healthcare coverage in US.
A homozygous SCN5A mutation associated with atrial standstill and sudden death
BACKGROUND:Atrial standstill is an arrhythmogenic condition characterized by the absence of spontaneous electrical and mechanical atrial activity or in response to stimulation. There are few reported familial cases which have been associated with SCN5A mutations co-segregating with GJA5 or RYR2 however isolated SCN5A mutations are rare. OBJECTIVE:The purpose of this study was to determine the clinical and biophysical consequence of a novel SCN5A mutation identified in a family with progressive atrial standstill and sudden death. METHODS:The family of a sporadic case of congenital atrial standstill underwent genetic screening. Human Embryonic Kidney 293 cells were transfected with wild-type (WT) or mutant SCN5A cDNAs. Biophysical properties were studied using whole-cell using patch clamp methods. RESULTS:A novel homozygous SCN5A mutation, p.V1340L was identified in the proband and her sister. The proband had complete atrial standstill whereas the sister had partial atrial standstill. Heterozygous mutations were identified in the mother, father and brother. All three had normal sinus rhythm and were asymptomatic. The mutant Nav1.5(V1340L) reduced Nav1.5 current density as well as showed a depolarizing shift in the voltage-dependent steady-state activation (WT: -35.3Â±1.62Â mV; V1340L: -22.4Â±2.59Â mV; PÂ =Â 0.001). CONCLUSIONS:A homozygous loss-of-function SCN5A mutation likely results in atrial standstill and sudden death due to suppression of initiation of action potential.