Role of Caveolin-3 in the Modulation of hERG Potassium Channel
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The human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) encodes the pore-forming subunit of the rapidly activating delayed rectifier potassium channel (IKr) that is important for cardiac repolarization. Previously, we have discovered that hERG channels rapidly internalize in low extracellular K+ ([K+]o). In cell culture, this process is driven by the endocytic protein, caveolin-1 (Cav1), which is an integral player in the caveolae-dependant endocytosis pathway. However, in the heart, Caveolin-3 (Cav3) is, in fact, the predominant form in the myocyte, and thus may play a direct role in regulating hERG expression in the heart. Thus, I hypothesize that this reduction of hERG conductance in cardiac myocytes derives from the presence of Cav3, which is integral regulator of hERG homeostasis innately in the heart. To investigate the effect of Cav3 on hERG, I overexpressed Cav3 in human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK-293) cells stably expressing hERG channels. Cav3 overexpression significantly and specifically decreased both the hERG current amplitude and the mature channel expression in normal culture conditions. Co-immunoprecipitation analysis and confocal imaging demonstrated an association between hERG and Cav3 in HEK cells as well as rat and rabbit cardiomyocytes. Mechanistically, I discovered that Cav3 possesses a faster turnover rate compared to Cav1, and can enhance hERG degradation through up-regulating mature channel ubiquitination via the ubiquitin ligase, NEDD4-2. Knockdown of Cav3 in neonatal cardiac myocytes also enhanced hERG expression. My data indicate that Cav3 participates in hERG trafficking, and is an important regulator of hERG channel homeostasis in cardiac myocytes. This information provides a platform for future intervention of the hERG-induced type-2 long QT syndrome (LQTS).