Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia, and a recent genome-wide association study identified the hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channel 4 (HCN4) as a novel AF susceptibility locus. HCN4 encodes for the cardiac pacemaker channel, and HCN4 mutations are associated with familial sinus bradycardia and AF.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether novel variants in the coding region of HCN4 contribute to the susceptibility for AF.
Methods: We sequenced the coding region of HCN4 for novel variants from 527 cases with early-onset AF from the Massachusetts General Hospital AF Study and 443 referents from the Framingham Heart Study. We used site-directed mutagenesis, cellular electrophysiology, immunocytochemistry, and confocal microscopy to functionally characterize novel variants.
Results: We found the frequency of novel coding HCN4 variants was 2-fold greater for individuals with AF (7 variants) compared to the referents (3 variants). We determined that of the 7 novel HCN4 variants in our AF cases, 1 (p.Pro257Ser, located in the amino-terminus adjacent to the first transmembrane spanning domain) did not traffic to cell membrane, whereas the remaining 6 were not functionally different from wild type. In addition, the 3 novel variants in our referents did not alter function compared to wild-type. Coexpression studies showed that the p.Pro257Ser mutant channel failed to colocalize with the wild-type HCN4 channel on the cell membrane.
Conclusion: Our findings are consistent with HCN4 haploinsufficiency as the likely mechanism for early-onset AF in the p.Pro257Ser carrier.
Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Electrophysiology; HCN4; Mutation.
Copyright © 2014 Heart Rhythm Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.