Functional integrity of the T-tubular system in cardiomyocytes depends on p21-activated kinase 1

J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2013 Jul;60:121-8. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2013.04.014. Epub 2013 Apr 20.


p21-activated kinase (Pak1), a serine-threonine protein kinase, regulates cytoskeletal dynamics and cell motility. Recent experiments further demonstrate that loss of Pak1 results in exaggerated hypertrophic growth in response to pathophysiological stimuli. Calcium (Ca) signaling plays an important role in the regulation of transcription factors involved in hypertrophic remodeling. Here we aimed to determine the role of Pak1 in cardiac excitation-contraction coupling (ECC). Ca transients were recorded in isolated, ventricular myocytes (VMs) from WT and Pak1(-/-) mice. Pak1(-/-) Ca transients had a decreased amplitude, prolonged rise time and delayed recovery time. Di-8-ANNEPS staining revealed a decreased T-tubular density in Pak1(-/-) VMs that coincided with decreased cell capacitance and increased dis-synchrony of Ca induced Ca release (CICR) at individual release units. These changes were not observed in atrial myocytes of Pak1(-/-) mice where the T-tubular system is only sparsely developed. Experiments in cultured rabbit VMs supported a role of Pak1 in the maintenance of the T-tubular structure. T-tubular density in rabbit VMs significantly decreased within 24h of culture. This was accompanied by a decrease of the Ca transient amplitude and a prolongation of its rise time. However, overexpression of constitutively active Pak1 in VMs attenuated the structural remodeling as well as changes in ECC. The results provide significant support for a prominent role of Pak1 activity not only in the functional regulation of ECC but for the structural maintenance of the T-tubular system whose remodeling is an integral feature of hypertrophic remodeling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiomegaly / enzymology*
  • Cardiomegaly / genetics
  • Cardiomegaly / pathology
  • Excitation Contraction Coupling*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / enzymology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / pathology
  • Rabbits
  • Ventricular Remodeling*
  • p21-Activated Kinases / genetics
  • p21-Activated Kinases / metabolism*


  • Pak1 protein, mouse
  • p21-Activated Kinases