Hallmarks of ion channel gene expression in end-stage heart failure
Electrical conductance is greatly altered in end-stage heart failure, but little is known about the underlying events. We therefore investigated the expression of genes coding for major inward and outward ion channels, calcium binding proteins, ion receptors, ion exchangers, calcium ATPases, and calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases in explanted hearts (n=13) of patients diagnosed with end-stage heart failure. With the exception of Kv11.1 and Kir3.1 and when compared with healthy controls, major sodium, potassium, and calcium ion channels, ion transporters, and exchangers were significantly repressed, but expression of Kv7.1, HCN4, troponin C and I, SERCA1, and phospholamban was elevated. Hierarchical gene cluster analysis provided novel insight into regulated gene networks. Significant induction of the transcriptional repressor m-Bop and the translational repressor NAT1 coincided with repressed cardiac gene expression. The statistically significant negative correlation between repressors and ion channels points to a mechanism of disease. We observed coregulation of ion channels and the androgen receptor and propose a role for this receptor in ion channel regulation. Overall, the reversal of repressed ion channel gene expression in patients with implanted assist devices exemplifies the complex interactions between pressure load/stretch force and heart-specific gene expression.