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Mutations in SCN5A, the gene encoding the pore-forming subunit of cardiac Na(+) channels, cause a spectrum of arrhythmic syndromes. Of these, sinoatrial node (SAN) dysfunction occurs in patients with both loss- and gain-of-function SCN5A mutations. We explored for corresponding alterations in SAN function and intracardiac conduction and clarified possible mechanisms underlying these in an established mouse long QT syndrome type 3 model carrying a mutation equivalent to human SCN5A-ΔKPQ. Electrophysiological characterizations of SAN function in living animals and in vitro sinoatrial preparations were compared with cellular SAN and two-dimensional tissue models exploring the consequences of Scn5a+/ΔKPQ mutations. Scn5a+/ΔKPQ mice showed prolonged electrocardiographic QT and corrected QT intervals confirming long QT phenotypes. They showed frequent episodes of sinus bradycardia, sinus pause/arrest, and significantly longer sinus node recovery times, suggesting compromised pacemaker activity compared with wild-type mice. Electrocardiographic waveforms suggested depressed intra-atrial, atrioventricular node, and intraventricular conduction in Scn5a+/ΔKPQ mice. Isolated Scn5a+/ΔKPQ sinoatrial preparations similarly showed lower mean intrinsic heart rates and overall slower conduction through the SAN to the surrounding atrium than did wild-type preparations. Computer simulations of both single SAN cells as well as two-dimensional SAN-atrial models could reproduce the experimental observations of impaired pacemaker and sinoatrial conduction in terms of changes produced by both augmented tail and reduced total Na(+) currents, respectively. In conclusion, the gain-of-function long QT syndrome type 3 murine Scn5a+/ΔKPQ cardiac system, in overlap with corresponding features reported in loss-of-function Na(+) channel mutations, shows compromised SAN pacemaker and conduction function explicable in modeling studies through a combination of augmented tail and reduced peak Na(+) currents.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol

Publication Date





H1510 - H1523


Algorithms, Anesthesia, Anesthetics, Dissociative, Animals, Arrhythmias, Cardiac, Atrioventricular Node, Computer Simulation, Electrocardiography, Electrodes, Implanted, Electrophysiological Phenomena, Ethanol, Heart, Heart Conduction System, In Vitro Techniques, Ketamine, Membrane Potentials, Mice, Mice, Knockout, NAV1.5 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel, Sinoatrial Node, Sodium Channels