Cardiac sodium-calcium exchange (NCX1) is the dominant calcium (Ca) efflux mechanism in cardiomyocytes and is strongly regulated by pH. However, the role of NCX1 pH sensitivity in normal cardiac function is unknown.
We used CRISPR/Cas9 to produce a pH-resistant NCX1 mouse by replacing the histidine at position 165 of NCX1 with an alanine (H165A). Hearts were studied using echocardiography and ECG. RNA and protein expression levels were assessed using qPCR and Western blotting. Isolated ventricular cardiomyocytes were loaded with Ca indicators and patch clamped to record intracellular Ca transients and membrane current and voltage.
H165A mice live into adulthood with slightly reduced LV systolic function, normal heart rate and shortened QT interval. Both male and female animals exhibit reduced growth, but females eventually reach normal body weight. In patch clamped myocytes, NCX current (I NCX ) evoked by voltage ramps was reduced by 35% (at +80 mV). Lowering pH i to 6.5 using Na-Acetate had no effect on I NCX in H165A myocytes, whereas the same intervention in wildtype (WT) inhibited I NCX by 69% (at +80 mV, p<0.01). There was no change in H165A ventricular cardiomyocyte Ca transients measured with fura-2 AM. However, action potential duration was reduced 68%, consistent with the shorter QT interval. This coincided with a 37% reduction in L-type Ca current and increased expression of repolarizing K + channels. H165A mice are also resistant to ischemia/reperfusion injury.
The H165A mutation attenuates pH regulation of NCX1 in mice, is associated with reduced growth and accelerates cardiac repolarization without compromising excitation-contraction coupling. The mutation also confers cardioprotection. The H165A mouse is the first evidence that pH regulation of NCX1 affects cardiac physiology and is a potential model for studying the role of NCX1 pH-sensitivity on both physiological and pathophysiological cardiac function.