Journal of Physiology

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Computational analysis of Ca2+ dynamics in isolated cardiac mitochondria predicts two distinct modes of Ca2+ uptake

01 May 2014

Cardiac mitochondria can act as a significant Ca2+ sink and shape cytosolic Ca2+ signals affecting various cellular processes, such as energy metabolism and excitation–contraction coupling. However, different mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake mechanisms are still not well understood. In this study, we analysed recently published Ca2+ uptake experiments performed on isolated guinea pig cardiac mitochondria using a computer model of mitochondrial bioenergetics and cation handling. The model analyses of the data suggest that the majority of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, at physiological levels of cytosolic Ca2+ and Mg2+, occurs through a fast Ca2+ uptake pathway, which is neither the Ca2+ uniporter nor the rapid mode of Ca2+ uptake. This fast Ca2+ uptake component was explained by including a biophysical model of the ryanodine receptor (RyR) in the computer model. However, the Mg2+-dependent enhancement of the RyR adaptation was not evident in this RyR-type channel, in contrast to that of cardiac sarcoplasmic reticulum RyR. The extended computer model is corroborated by simulating an independent experimental dataset, featuring mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, egress and sequestration. The model analyses of the two datasets validate the existence of two classes of Ca2+ buffers that comprise the mitochondrial Ca2+ sequestration system. The modelling study further indicates that the Ca2+ buffers respond differentially depending on the source of Ca2+ uptake. In particular, it suggests that the Class 1 Ca2+ buffering capacity is auto-regulated by the rate at which Ca2+ is taken up by mitochondria.

Revertant mutants modify, but do not rescue, the gating defect of the cystic fibrosis mutant G551D-CFTR

01 May 2014

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is caused by dysfunction of the epithelial anion channel cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). One strategy to restore function to CF mutants is to suppress defects in CFTR processing and function using revertant mutations. Here, we investigate the effects of the revertant mutations G550E and 4RK (the simultaneous disruption of four arginine-framed tripeptides (AFTs): R29K, R516K, R555K and R766K) on the CF mutant G551D, which impairs severely channel gating without altering protein processing and which affects a residue in the same α-helix as G550 and R555. Both G550E and 4RK augmented strongly CFTR-mediated iodide efflux from BHK cells expressing G551D-CFTR. To learn how revertant mutations influence G551D-CFTR function, we studied protein processing and single-channel behaviour. Neither G550E nor 4RK altered the expression and maturation of G551D-CFTR protein. By contrast, both revertants had marked effects on G551D-CFTR channel gating, increasing strongly opening frequency, while 4RK also diminished noticeably the duration of channel openings. Because G551D-CFTR channel gating is ATP independent, we investigated whether revertant mutations restore ATP dependence to G551D-CFTR. Like wild-type CFTR, the activity of 4RK-G551D-CFTR varied with ATP concentration, suggesting that 4RK confers some ATP dependence on the G551D-CFTR channel. Thus, the revertant mutations G550E and 4RK alter the gating pattern and ATP dependence of G551D-CFTR without restoring single-channel activity to wild-type levels. Based on their impact on the CF mutants F508del and G551D, we conclude that G550E and 4RK have direct effects on CFTR structure, but that their action on CFTR processing and channel function is CF mutation specific.

Novel approaches to determine contractile function of the isolated adult zebrafish ventricular cardiac myocyte

01 May 2014

The zebrafish (Danio rerio) has been used extensively in cardiovascular biology, but mainly in the study of heart development. The relative ease of its genetic manipulation may indicate the suitability of this species as a cost-effective model system for the study of cardiac contractile biology. However, whether the zebrafish heart is an appropriate model system for investigations pertaining to mammalian cardiac contractile structure–function relationships remains to be resolved. Myocytes were isolated from adult zebrafish hearts by enzymatic digestion, attached to carbon rods, and twitch force and intracellular Ca2+ were measured. We observed the modulation of twitch force, but not of intracellular Ca2+, by both extracellular [Ca2+] and sarcomere length. In permeabilized cells/myofibrils, we found robust myofilament length-dependent activation. Moreover, modulation of myofilament activation–relaxation and force redevelopment kinetics by varied Ca2+ activation levels resembled that found previously in mammalian myofilaments. We conclude that the zebrafish is a valid model system for the study of cardiac contractile structure–function relationships.

Genetic ablation of ryanodine receptor 2 phosphorylation at Ser-2808 aggravates Ca2+-dependent cardiomyopathy by exacerbating diastolic Ca2+ release

01 May 2014

Phosphorylation of the cardiac ryanodine receptor (RyR2) by protein kinase A (PKA) at Ser-2808 is suggested to mediate the physiological ‘fight or flight’ response and contribute to heart failure by rendering the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) leaky for Ca2+. In the present study, we examined the potential role of RyR2 phosphorylation at Ser-2808 in the progression of Ca2+-dependent cardiomyopathy (CCM) by using mice genetically modified to feature elevated SR Ca2+ leak while expressing RyR2s that cannot be phosphorylated at this site (S2808A). Surprisingly, rather than alleviating the disease phenotype, constitutive dephosphorylation of Ser-2808 aggravated CCM as manifested by shortened survival, deteriorated in vivo cardiac function, exacerbated SR Ca2+ leak and mitochondrial injury. Notably, the deteriorations of cardiac function, myocyte Ca2+ handling, and mitochondria integrity were consistently worse in mice with heterozygous ablation of Ser-2808 than in mice with complete ablation. Wild-type (WT) and CCM myocytes expressing unmutated RyR2s exhibited a high level of baseline phosphorylation at Ser-2808. Exposure of these CCM cells to protein phosphatase 1 caused a transitory increase in Ca2+ leak attributable to partial dephosphorylation of RyR2 tetramers at Ser-2808 from more fully phosphorylated state. Thus, exacerbated Ca2+ leak through partially dephosphorylated RyR2s accounts for the prevalence of the disease phenotype in the heterozygous S2808A CCM mice. These results do not support the importance of RyR2 hyperphosphorylation in Ca2+-dependent heart disease, and rather suggest roles for the opposite process, the RyR2 dephosphorylation at this residue in physiological and pathophysiological Ca2+ signalling.

Increase in cytosolic Ca2+ produced by hypoxia and other depolarizing stimuli activates a non-selective cation channel in chemoreceptor cells of rat carotid body

01 May 2014

The current model of O2 sensing by carotid body chemoreceptor (glomus) cells is that hypoxia inhibits the outward K+ current and causes cell depolarization, Ca2+ influx via voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels and a rise in intracellular [Ca2+] ([Ca2+]i). Here we show that hypoxia (<5% O2), in addition to inhibiting the two-pore domain K+ channels TASK-1/3 (TASK), indirectly activates an ~20 pS channel in isolated glomus cells. The 20 pS channel was permeable to K+, Na+ and Cs+ but not to Cl– or Ca2+. The 20 pS channel was not sensitive to voltage. Inhibition of TASK by external acid, depolarization of glomus cells with high external KCl (20 mm) or opening of the Ca2+ channel with FPL64176 activated the 20 pS channel when 1 mm Ca2+ was present in the external solution. Ca2+ (10 μm) applied to the cytosolic side of inside-out patches activated the 20 pS channel. The threshold [Ca2+]i for activation of the 20 pS channel in cell-attached patches was ~200 nm. The reversal potential of the 20 pS channel was estimated to be –28 mV. Our results reveal a sequential mechanism in which hypoxia (<5% O2) first inhibits the K+ conductance and then activates a Na+-permeable, non-selective cation channel via depolarization-induced rise in [Ca2+]i. Our results suggest that inhibition of K+ efflux and stimulation of Na+ influx both contribute to the depolarization of glomus cells during moderate to severe hypoxia.

Prophylactic erythropoietin exacerbates ventilation-induced lung inflammation and injury in preterm lambs

01 May 2014

Ventilation-induced lung injury (VILI) of preterm neonates probably contributes to the pathogenesis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Erythropoietin (EPO) has been suggested as a therapy for BPD. The aim of this study was to determine whether prophylactic administration of EPO reduces VILI in preterm newborn lambs. Lambs at 126 days of gestation (term is 147 days) were delivered and ventilated with a high tidal volume strategy for 15 min to cause lung injury, then received gentle ventilation until 2 h of age. Lambs were randomized to receive intravenous EPO (5000 IU kg–1: Vent+EPO; n = 6) or phosphate-buffered saline (Vent; n = 7) soon after birth: unventilated controls (UVC; n = 8) did not receive ventilation or any treatment. Physiological parameters were recorded throughout the experimental procedure. Samples of lung were collected for histological and molecular assessment of inflammation and injury. Samples of liver were collected to assess the systemic acute phase response. Vent+EPO lambs received higher F IO 2, P aO 2 and oxygenation during the first 10 min than Vent lambs. There were no differences in physiological indices beyond this time. Total lung injury score, airway wall thickness, inflammation and haemorrhage were higher in Vent+EPO lambs than in Vent lambs. Lung inflammation and early markers of lung and systemic injury were elevated in ventilated lambs relative to unventilated lambs; EPO administration further increased lung inflammation and markers of lung and systemic injury. Prophylactic EPO exacerbates VILI, which may increase the incidence and severity of long-term respiratory disease. More studies are required before EPO can be used for lung protection in preterm infants.

Subcellular distribution of glycogen and decreased tetanic Ca2+ in fatigued single intact mouse muscle fibres

01 May 2014

In skeletal muscle fibres, glycogen has been shown to be stored at different subcellular locations: (i) between the myofibrils (intermyofibrillar); (ii) within the myofibrils (intramyofibrillar); and (iii) subsarcolemmal. Of these, intramyofibrillar glycogen has been implied as a critical regulator of sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release. The aim of the present study was to test directly how the decrease in cytoplasmic free Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) during repeated tetanic contractions relates to the subcellular glycogen distribution. Single fibres of mouse flexor digitorum brevis muscles were fatigued with 70 Hz, 350 ms tetani given at 2 s (high-intensity fatigue, HIF) or 10 s (low-intensity fatigue, LIF) intervals, while force and [Ca2+]i were measured. Stimulation continued until force decreased to 30% of its initial value. Fibres were then prepared for analyses of subcellular glycogen distribution by transmission electron microscopy. At fatigue, tetanic [Ca2+]i was reduced to 70 ± 4% and 54 ± 4% of the initial in HIF (P < 0.01, n = 9) and LIF (P < 0.01, n = 5) fibres, respectively. At fatigue, the mean inter- and intramyofibrillar glycogen content was 60–75% lower than in rested control fibres (P < 0.05), whereas subsarcolemmal glycogen was similar to control. Individual fibres showed a good correlation between the fatigue-induced decrease in tetanic [Ca2+]i and the reduction in intermyofibrillar (P = 0.051) and intramyofibrillar (P = 0.0008) glycogen. In conclusion, the fatigue-induced decrease in tetanic [Ca2+]i, and hence force, is accompanied by major reductions in inter- and intramyofibrillar glycogen. The stronger correlation between decreased tetanic [Ca2+]i and reduced intramyofibrillar glycogen implies that sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release critically depends on energy supply from the intramyofibrillar glycogen pool.

Short-term sustained hypoxia induces changes in the coupling of sympathetic and respiratory activities in rats

01 May 2014

Individuals experiencing sustained hypoxia (SH) exhibit adjustments in the respiratory and autonomic functions by neural mechanisms not yet elucidated. In the present study we evaluated the central mechanisms underpinning the SH-induced changes in the respiratory pattern and their impact on the sympathetic outflow. Using a decerebrated arterially perfused in situ preparation, we verified that juvenile rats exposed to SH (10% O2) for 24 h presented an active expiratory pattern, with increased abdominal, hypoglossal and vagal activities during late-expiration (late-E). SH also enhanced the activity of augmenting-expiratory neurones and depressed the activity of post-inspiratory neurones of the Bötzinger complex (BötC) by mechanisms not related to changes in their intrinsic electrophysiological properties. SH rats exhibited high thoracic sympathetic activity and arterial pressure levels associated with an augmented firing frequency of pre-sympathetic neurones of the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) during the late-E phase. The antagonism of ionotropic glutamatergic receptors in the BötC/RVLM abolished the late-E bursts in expiratory and sympathetic outputs of SH rats, indicating that glutamatergic inputs to the BötC/RVLM are essential for the changes in the expiratory and sympathetic coupling observed in SH rats. We also observed that the usually silent late-E neurones of the retrotrapezoid nucleus/parafacial respiratory group became active in SH rats, suggesting that this neuronal population may provide the excitatory drive essential to the emergence of active expiration and sympathetic overactivity. We conclude that short-term SH induces the activation of medullary expiratory neurones, which affects the pattern of expiratory motor activity and its coupling with sympathetic activity.

Glucocorticoids and renal Na+ transport: implications for hypertension and salt sensitivity

15 April 2014

The clinical manifestations of glucocorticoid excess include central obesity, hyperglycaemia, dyslipidaemia, electrolyte abnormalities and hypertension. A century on from Cushing's original case study, these cardinal features are prevalent in industrialized nations. Hypertension is the major modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular and renal disease and reflects underlying abnormalities of Na+ homeostasis. Aldosterone is a master regulator of renal Na+ transport but here we argue that glucocorticoids are also influential, particularly during moderate excess. The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis can affect renal Na+ homeostasis on multiple levels, systemically by increasing mineralocorticoid synthesis and locally by actions on both the mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid receptors, both of which are expressed in the kidney. The kidney also expresses both of the 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11βHSD) enzymes. The intrarenal generation of active glucocorticoid by 11βHSD1 stimulates Na+ reabsorption; failure to downregulate the enzyme during adaption to high dietary salt causes salt-sensitive hypertension. The deactivation of glucocorticoid by 11βHSD2 underpins the regulatory dominance for Na+ transport of mineralocorticoids and defines the ‘aldosterone-sensitive distal nephron’. In summary, glucocorticoids can stimulate renal transport processes conventionally attributed to the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system. Importantly, Na+ and volume homeostasis do not exert negative feedback on the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. These actions are therefore clinically relevant and may contribute to the pathogenesis of hypertension in conditions associated with elevated glucocorticoid levels, such as the metabolic syndrome and chronic stress.

Intrinsic vascular dopamine - a key modulator of hypoxia-induced vasodilatation in splanchnic vessels

15 April 2014

Dopamine not only is a precursor of the catecholamines noradrenaline and adrenaline but also serves as an independent neurotransmitter and paracrine hormone. It plays an important role in the pathogenesis of hypertension and is a potent vasodilator in many mammalian systemic arteries, strongly suggesting an endogenous source of dopamine in the vascular wall. Here we demonstrated dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline in rat aorta and superior mesenteric arteries (SMA) by radioimmunoassay. Chemical sympathectomy with 6-hydroxydopamine showed a significant reduction of noradrenaline and adrenaline, while dopamine levels remained unaffected. Isolated endothelial cells were able to synthesize and release dopamine upon cAMP stimulation. Consistent with these data, mRNAs coding for catecholamine synthesizing enzymes, i.e. tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), aromatic l-amino acid decarboxylase, and dopamine-β-hydroxylase were detected by RT-PCR in cultured endothelial cells from SMA. TH protein was detected by immunohistochemisty and Western blot. Exposure of endothelial cells to hypoxia (1% O2) increased TH mRNA. Vascular smooth muscle cells partially expressed catecholaminergic traits. A physiological role of endogenous vascular dopamine was shown in SMA, where D1 dopamine receptor blockade abrogated hypoxic vasodilatation. Experiments on SMA with endothelial denudation revealed a significant contribution of the endothelium, although subendothelial dopamine release dominated. From these results we conclude that endothelial cells and cells of the underlying vascular wall synthesize and release dopamine in an oxygen-regulated manner. In the splanchnic vasculature, this intrinsic non-neuronal dopamine is the dominating vasodilator released upon lowering of oxygen tension.