Robust L-type calcium current expression following heterozygous knockout of the Cav1.2 gene in adult mouse heart
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Mechanisms that contribute to maintaining expression of functional ion channels at relatively constant levels following perturbations of channel biosynthesis are likely to contribute significantly to the stability of electrophysiological systems in some pathological conditions. In order to examine the robustness of L-type calcium current expression, the response to changes in Ca²⁺ channel Cav1.2 gene dosage was studied in adult mice. Using a cardiac-specific inducible Cre recombinase system, Cav1.2 mRNA was reduced to 11 ± 1% of control values in homozygous floxed mice and the mice died rapidly (11.9 ± 3 days) after induction of gene deletion. In these homozygous knockout mice, echocardiographic analysis showed that myocardial contractility was reduced to 14 ± 1% of control values shortly before death. For these mice, no effective compensatory changes in ion channel gene expression were triggered following deletion of both Cav1.2 alleles, despite the dramatic decay in cardiac function. In contrast to the homozygote knockout mice, following knockout of only one Cav1.2 allele, cardiac function remained unchanged, as did survival.Cav1.2mRNAexpression in the left ventricle of heterozygous knockout mice was reduced to 58 ± 3% of control values and there was a 21 ± 2% reduction in Cav1.2 protein expression. There was no significant reduction in L-type Ca²⁺ current density in these mice. The results are consistent with a model of L-type calcium channel biosynthesis in which there are one or more saturated steps, which act to buffer changes in both total Cav1.2 protein and L-type current expression.
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