Objectives This study sought to study the role of junctophilin-2 (JPH2) in atrial fibrillation (AF). Background JPH2 is believed to have an important role in sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ handling and modulation of ryanodine receptor Ca2+ channels (RyR2). Whereas defective RyR2-mediated Ca2+ release contributes to the pathogenesis of AF, nothing is known about the potential role of JPH2 in atrial arrhythmias. Methods Screening 203 unrelated hypertrophic cardiomyopathy patients uncovered a novel JPH2 missense mutation (E169K) in 2 patients with juvenile-onset paroxysmal AF (pAF). Pseudoknock-in (PKI) mouse models were generated to determine the molecular defects underlying the development of AF caused by this JPH2 mutation. Results PKI mice expressing E169K mutant JPH2 exhibited a higher incidence of inducible AF than wild type (WT)-PKI mice, whereas A399S-PKI mice expressing a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-linked JPH2 mutation not associated with atrial arrhythmias were not significantly different from WT-PKI. E169K-PKI but not A399A-PKI atrial cardiomyocytes showed an increased incidence of abnormal SR Ca2+ release events. These changes were attributed to reduced binding of E169K-JPH2 to RyR2. Atrial JPH2 levels in WT-JPH2 transgenic, nontransgenic, and JPH2 knockdown mice correlated negatively with the incidence of pacing-induced AF. Ca2+ spark frequency in atrial myocytes and the open probability of single RyR2 channels from JPH2 knockdown mice was significantly reduced by a small JPH2-mimicking oligopeptide. Moreover, patients with pAF had reduced atrial JPH2 levels per RyR2 channel compared to sinus rhythm patients and an increased frequency of spontaneous Ca2+ release events. Conclusions Our data suggest a novel mechanism by which reduced JPH2-mediated stabilization of RyR2 due to loss-of-function mutation or reduced JPH2/RyR2 ratios can promote SR Ca2+ leak and atrial arrhythmias, representing a potential novel therapeutic target for AF.
- atrial fibrillation
- ryanodine receptor
- sarcoplasmic reticulum
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine