INTRODUCTION: The Brugada Syndrome (BrS), an inherited syndrome associated with a high incidence of sudden cardiac arrest, has been linked to mutations in four different genes leading to a loss of function in sodium and calcium channel activity. Although the transient outward current (I(to)) is thought to play a prominent role in the expression of the syndrome, mutations in I(to)-related genes have not been identified as yet.
METHODS AND RESULTS: One hundred and five probands with BrS were screened for ion channel gene mutations using single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) electrophoresis and direct sequencing. A missense mutation (R99H) in KCNE3 (MiRP2) was detected in one proband. The R99H mutation was found 4/4 phenotype positive and 0/3 phenotype-negative family members. Chinese hamster ovary (CHO)-K1 cells were co-transfected using wild-type (WT) or mutant KCNE3 and either WT KCND3 or KCNQ1. Whole-cell patch clamp studies were performed after 48 hours. Interactions between Kv4.3 and KCNE3 were analyzed in co-immunoprecipitation experiments in human atrial samples. Co-transfection of R99H-KCNE3 with KCNQ1 produced no alteration in current magnitude or kinetics. However, co-transfection of R99H KCNE3 with KCND3 resulted in a significant increase in the I(to) intensity compared to WT KCNE3+KCND3. Using tissues isolated from left atrial appendages of human hearts, we also demonstrate that K(v)4.3 and KCNE3 can be co-immunoprecipitated.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provide definitive evidence for a functional role of KCNE3 in the modulation of I(to) in the human heart and suggest that mutations in KCNE3 can underlie the development of BrS.
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