RNA interference targeting E637K mutation rescues hERG channel currents and restores its kinetic properties

Heart Rhythm. 2013 Jan;10(1):128-36. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2012.09.124. Epub 2012 Sep 26.


Background: Long QT syndrome (LQTS) is a monogenic proarrhythmic disorder that predisposes affected individuals to sudden death from tachyarrhythmia. As an inherited disease, LQTS cannot be completely cured by conventional treatment modalities. Individualized gene therapy is a promising therapeutic approach.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of small interference RNA (siRNA) on expression of E637K-hERG (human ether-a-go-go-related gene) mutant and whether it can be used to rescue the mutant's dominant-negative suppressive effects on hERG protein channel function.

Methods: Western blot was performed to select the most sensitive siRNAs to target E637K-hERG mutant knockdown. Confocal laser scanning microscope was performed to monitor cellular localization of wild-type (WT)-hERG and E637K-hERG with or without siRNA. Patch-clamp technique was used to assess the effect of siRNA on the electrophysiologic characteristics of the rapidly activating delayed rectifier K(+) current I(Kr) of the hERG protein channel.

Results: siRNA led to a significant decrease in the level of E637K-hERG protein but did not affect the level of WT-hERG protein. WT-hERG localization in cells coexpressing E637K-hERG mutant was restored to the membrane by siRNA. The siRNA-mediated inhibition of E637K-hERG mutant restored the maximum current and tail current amplitudes. Furthermore, siRNA treatment rescued the kinetic properties of WT/E637K-hERG protein channel to a level comparable to that of WT-hERG protein channel.

Conclusion: Our findings illustrated that siRNA can effectively inhibit E637K-hERG protein expression and rescue the dominant-negative effect of this mutation by restoring the kinetic properties of hERG protein channel. It has potential clinical implications with regard to the possibility of using siRNA in the treatment of LQTS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Proliferation
  • ERG1 Potassium Channel
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels / genetics*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Long QT Syndrome / genetics*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Mutation
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / therapeutic use*


  • ERG1 Potassium Channel
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels
  • KCNH2 protein, human
  • RNA, Small Interfering