Frank-Starling's law reflects the ability of the heart to adjust the force of its contraction to changes in ventricular filling, a property based on length-dependent myofilament activation (LDA). The threonine at amino acid 143 of cardiac troponin I (cTnI) is prerequisite for the length-dependent increase in Ca(2+) sensitivity. Thr143 is a known target of protein kinase C (PKC) whose activity is increased in cardiac disease. Thr143 phosphorylation may modulate length-dependent myofilament activation in failing hearts. Therefore, we investigated if pseudo-phosphorylation at Thr143 modulates length dependence of force using troponin exchange experiments in human cardiomyocytes. In addition, we studied effects of protein kinase A (PKA)-mediated cTnI phosphorylation at Ser23/24, which has been reported to modulate LDA. Isometric force was measured at various Ca(2+) concentrations in membrane-permeabilized cardiomyocytes exchanged with recombinant wild-type (WT) troponin or troponin mutated at the PKC site Thr143 or Ser23/24 into aspartic acid (D) or alanine (A) to mimic phosphorylation and dephosphorylation, respectively. In troponin-exchanged donor cardiomyocytes experiments were repeated after incubation with exogenous PKA. Pseudo-phosphorylation of Thr143 increased myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity compared with WT without affecting LDA in failing and donor cardiomyocytes. Subsequent PKA treatment enhanced the length-dependent shift in Ca(2+) sensitivity after WT and 143D exchange. Exchange with Ser23/24 variants demonstrated that pseudo-phosphorylation of both Ser23 and Ser24 is needed to enhance the length-dependent increase in Ca(2+) sensitivity. cTnI pseudo-phosphorylation did not alter length-dependent changes in maximal force. Thus phosphorylation at Thr143 enhances myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity without affecting LDA, while Ser23/24 bisphosphorylation is needed to enhance the length-dependent increase in myofilament Ca(2+) sensitivity.
Keywords: myofilament function; protein phosphorylation; troponin I.