Identification of transmembrane protein 168 mutation in familial Brugada syndrome

FASEB J. 2020 May;34(5):6399-6417. doi: 10.1096/fj.201902991R. Epub 2020 Mar 16.


Brugada syndrome (BrS) is an inherited channelopathy responsible for almost 20% of sudden cardiac deaths in patients with nonstructural cardiac diseases. Approximately 70% of BrS patients, the causative gene mutation(s) remains unknown. In this study, we used whole exome sequencing to investigate candidate mutations in a family clinically diagnosed with BrS. A heterozygous 1616G>A substitution (R539Q mutation) was identified in the transmembrane protein 168 (TMEM168) gene of symptomatic individuals. Similar to endogenous TMEM168, both TMEM168 wild-type (WT) and mutant proteins that were ectopically induced in HL-1 cells showed nuclear membrane localization. A significant decrease in Na+ current and Nav 1.5 protein expression was observed in HL-1 cardiomyocytes expressing mutant TMEM168. Ventricular tachyarrhythmias and conduction disorders were induced in the heterozygous Tmem168 1616G>A knock-in mice by pharmacological stimulation, but not in WT mice. Na+ current was reduced in ventricular cardiomyocytes isolated from the Tmem168 knock-in heart, and Nav 1.5 expression was also impaired. This impairment was dependent on increased Nedd4-2 binding to Nav 1.5 and subsequent ubiquitination. Collectively, our results show an association between the TMEM168 1616G>A mutation and arrhythmogenesis in a family with BrS.

Keywords: fatal ventricular arrhythmia; sodium channel; ubiquitination.