Atrial arrhythmogenicity of KCNJ2 mutations in short QT syndrome: Insights from virtual human atria

Dominic G Whittaker, Haibo Ni, Aziza El Harchi, Jules C Hancox, Henggui Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
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Gain-of-function mutations in KCNJ2-encoded Kir2.1 channels underlie variant 3 (SQT3) of the short QT syndrome, which is associated with atrial fibrillation (AF). Using biophysically-detailed human atria computer models, this study investigated the mechanistic link between SQT3 mutations and atrial arrhythmogenesis, and potential ion channel targets for treatment of SQT3. A contemporary model of the human atrial action potential (AP) was modified to recapitulate functional changes in IK1 due to heterozygous and homozygous forms of the D172N and E299V Kir2.1 mutations. Wild-type (WT) and mutant formulations were incorporated into multi-scale homogeneous and heterogeneous tissue models. Effects of mutations on AP duration (APD), conduction velocity (CV), effective refractory period (ERP), tissue excitation threshold and their rate-dependence, as well as the wavelength of re-entry (WL) were quantified. The D172N and E299V Kir2.1 mutations produced distinct effects on IK1 and APD shortening. Both mutations decreased WL for re-entry through a reduction in ERP and CV. Stability of re-entrant excitation waves in 2D and 3D tissue models was mediated by changes to tissue excitability and dispersion of APD in mutation conditions. Combined block of IK1 and IKr was effective in terminating re-entry associated with heterozygous D172N conditions, whereas IKr block alone may be a safer alternative in the E299V mutation. Combined inhibition of IKr and IKur produced a synergistic anti-arrhythmic effect in both forms of SQT3. In conclusion, this study provides mechanistic insights into atrial proarrhythmia with SQT3 Kir2.1 mutations and highlights possible pharmacological strategies for management of SQT3-linked AF.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1005593
Number of pages29
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2017

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