Elementary mechanisms of calmodulin regulation of NaV1.5 producing divergent arrhythmogenic phenotypes

Po Wei Kang, Nourdine Chakouri, Johanna Diaz, Gordon F. Tomaselli, David T. Yue, Manu Ben-Johny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In cardiomyocytes, NaV1.5 channels mediate initiation and fast propagation of action potentials. The Ca2+-binding protein calmodulin (CaM) serves as a de facto subunit of NaV1.5. Genetic studies and atomic structures suggest that this interaction is pathophysiologically critical, as human mutations within the NaV1.5 carboxy-terminus that disrupt CaM binding are linked to distinct forms of life-threatening arrhythmias, including long QT syndrome 3, a “gain-of-function” defect, and Brugada syndrome, a “loss-of-function” phenotype. Yet, how a common disruption in CaM binding engenders divergent effects on NaV1.5 gating is not fully understood, though vital for elucidating arrhythmogenic mechanisms and for developing new therapies. Here, using extensive single-channel analysis, we find that the disruption of Ca2+-free CaM preassociation with NaV1.5 exerts two disparate effects: 1) a decrease in the peak open probability and 2) an increase in persistent NaV openings. Mechanistically, these effects arise from a CaM-dependent switch in the NaV inactivation mechanism. Specifically, CaM-bound channels preferentially inactivate from the open state, while those devoid of CaM exhibit enhanced closed-state inactivation. Further enriching this scheme, for certain mutant NaV1.5, local Ca2+ fluctuations elicit a rapid recruitment of CaM that reverses the increase in persistent Na current, a factor that may promote beat-to-beat variability in late Na current. In all, these findings identify the elementary mechanism of CaM regulation of NaV1.5 and, in so doing, unravel a noncanonical role for CaM in tuning ion channel gating. Furthermore, our results furnish an in-depth molecular framework for understanding complex arrhythmogenic phenotypes of NaV1.5 channelopathies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2025085118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 25 2021


  • Brugada syndrome
  • Calmodulin
  • Ion channels
  • Long QT syndrome
  • Nav1.5

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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