Diabetes mellitus (DM) is an independent risk factor for atrial fibrillation, but the underlying ionic mechanism for this association remains unclear. We recently reported that expression of the small-conductance calcium-activated potassium channel 2 (SK2, encoded by KCCN2) in atria from diabetic mice is significantly down-regulated, resulting in reduced SK currents in atrial myocytes from these mice. We also reported that the level of SK2 mRNA expression is not reduced in DM atria but that the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS), a major mechanism of intracellular protein degradation, is activated in vascular smooth muscle cells in DM. This suggests a possible role of the UPS in reduced SK currents. To test this possibility, we examined the role of the UPS in atrial SK2 down-regulation in DM. We found that a muscle-specific E3 ligase, F-box protein 32 (FBXO-32, also called atrogin-1), was significantly up-regulated in diabetic mouse atria. Enhanced FBXO-32 expression in atrial cells significantly reduced SK2 protein expression, and siRNA-mediated FBXO-32 knockdown increased SK2 protein expression. Furthermore, co-transfection of SK2 with FBXO-32 complementary DNA in HEK293 cells significantly reduced SK2 expression, whereas co-transfection with atrogin-1ΔF complementary DNA (a nonfunctional FBXO-32 variant in which the F-box domain is deleted) did not have any effects on SK2. These results indicate that FBXO-32 contributes to SK2 down-regulation and that the F-box domain is essential for FBXO-32 function. In conclusion, DM-induced SK2 channel down-regulation appears to be due to an FBXO-32-dependent increase in UPS-mediated SK2 protein degradation.
Keywords: HL-1 cells; SK channels; atrial fibrillation; atrogin-1; cardiomyocyte; cardiovascular disease; diabetes; diabetes mellitus; potassium channel; protein degradation; ubiquitin ligase.
© 2019 Ling et al.