Ischemic cardiomyopathy is associated with an increased risk of sudden death, activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR), and reductions in multiple cardiac ion channels. When activated, the protein kinase–like ER kinase (PERK) branch of the UPR reduces protein translation and abundance. We hypothesized that PERK inhibition could prevent ion channel downregulation and reduce arrhythmia risk after myocardial infarct (MI). MI induced in mice by coronary artery ligation resulted in reduced ion channel levels, ventricular tachycardia (VT), and prolonged corrected intervals between the Q and T waves on the ECGs (QTc). Protein levels of major cardiac ion channels were decreased. MI cardiomyocytes showed significantly prolonged action potential duration and decreased maximum upstroke velocity. Cardiac-specific PERK KO reduced electrical remodeling in response to MI, with shortened QTc intervals, fewer VT episodes, and higher survival rates. Pharmacological PERK inhibition had similar effects. In conclusion, we found that activated PERK during MI contributed to arrhythmia risk by the downregulation of select cardiac ion channels. PERK inhibition prevented these changes and reduced arrhythmia risk. These results suggest that ion channel downregulation during MI is a fundamental arrhythmia mechanism and that maintenance of ion channel levels is antiarrhythmic.
Man Liu, Hong Liu, Preethy Parthiban, Gyeoung-Jin Kang, Guangbin Shi, Feng Feng, Anyu Zhou, Lianzhi Gu, Courtney Karnopp, Elena G. Tolkacheva, Samuel C. Dudley Jr.