Spectrins are cytoskeletal proteins essential for membrane biogenesis and regulation and serve critical roles in protein targeting and cellular signaling. αII spectrin (SPTAN1) is one of two α spectrin genes and αII spectrin dysfunction is linked to alterations in axon initial segment formation, cortical lamination, and neuronal excitability. Furthermore, human αII spectrin loss-of-function variants cause neurological disease. As global αII spectrin knockout mice are embryonic lethal, the in vivo roles of αII spectrin in adult heart are unknown and untested. Here, based on pronounced alterations in αII spectrin regulation in human heart failure we tested the in vivo roles of αII spectrin in the vertebrate heart. We created a mouse model of cardiomyocyte-selective αII spectrin-deficiency (cKO) and used this model to define the roles of αII spectrin in cardiac function. αII spectrin cKO mice displayed significant structural, cellular, and electrical phenotypes that resulted in accelerated structural remodeling, fibrosis, arrhythmia, and mortality in response to stress. At the molecular level, we demonstrate that αII spectrin plays a nodal role for global cardiac spectrin regulation, as αII spectrin cKO hearts exhibited remodeling of αI spectrin and altered β-spectrin expression and localization. At the cellular level, αII spectrin deficiency resulted in altered expression, targeting, and regulation of cardiac ion channels NaV1.5 and KV4.3. In summary, our findings define critical and unexpected roles for the multifunctional αII spectrin protein in the heart. Furthermore, our work provides a new in vivo animal model to study the roles of αII spectrin in the cardiomyocyte.
Keywords: adaptor protein; ankryin; cardiovascular disease; cytoskeleton; heart; heart failure; ion channel; spectrin.
© 2019 Lubbers et al.