Stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) is a Ca(2+) sensor that partners with Orai1 to elicit Ca(2+) entry in response to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) Ca(2+) store depletion. While store-operated Ca(2+) entry (SOCE) is important for maintaining ER Ca(2+) homeostasis in non-excitable cells, it is unclear what role it plays in the heart, although STIM1 is expressed in the heart and upregulated during disease. Here we analyzed transgenic mice with STIM1 overexpression in the heart to model the known increase of this protein in response to disease. As expected, STIM1 transgenic myocytes showed enhanced Ca(2+) entry following store depletion and partial co-localization with the type 2 ryanodine receptor (RyR2) within the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), as well as enrichment around the sarcolemma. STIM1 transgenic mice exhibited sudden cardiac death as early as 6weeks of age, while mice surviving past 12weeks of age developed heart failure with hypertrophy, induction of the fetal gene program, histopathology and mitochondrial structural alterations, loss of ventricular functional performance and pulmonary edema. Younger, pre-symptomatic STIM1 transgenic mice exhibited enhanced pathology following pressure overload stimulation or neurohumoral agonist infusion, compared to controls. Mechanistically, cardiac myocytes isolated from STIM1 transgenic mice displayed spontaneous Ca(2+) transients that were prevented by the SOCE blocker SKF-96365, increased L-type Ca(2+) channel (LTCC) current, and enhanced Ca(2+) spark frequency. Moreover, adult cardiac myocytes from STIM1 transgenic mice showed both increased diastolic Ca(2+) and maximal transient amplitude but no increase in total SR Ca(2+) load. Associated with this enhanced Ca(2+) profile was an increase in cardiac nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) and Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII) activity. We conclude that STIM1 has an unexpected function in the heart where it alters communication between the sarcolemma and SR resulting in greater Ca(2+) flux and a leaky SR compartment.
Keywords: Calcium; Cardiac myocytes; Heart failure; Hypertrophy; Transgenesis.
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