Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT) is an arrhythmia syndrome caused by gene mutations that render RYR2 Ca release channels hyperactive, provoking spontaneous Ca release and delayed afterdepolarizations (DADs). What remains unknown is the cellular source of ventricular arrhythmia triggered by DADs: Purkinje cells in the conduction system or ventricular cardiomyocytes in the working myocardium. To answer this question, we used a genetic approach in mice to knock out cardiac calsequestrin either in Purkinje cells or in ventricular cardiomyocytes. Total loss of calsequestrin in the heart causes a severe CPVT phenotype in mice and humans. We found that loss of calsequestrin only in ventricular myocytes produced a full-blown CPVT phenotype, whereas mice with loss of calsequestrin only in Purkinje cells were comparable to WT mice. Subendocardial chemical ablation or restoration of calsequestrin expression in subendocardial cardiomyocytes neighboring Purkinje cells was sufficient to protect against catecholamine-induced arrhythmias. In silico modeling demonstrated that DADs in ventricular myocardium can trigger full action potentials in the Purkinje fiber, but not vice versa. Hence, ectopic beats in CPVT are likely generated at the Purkinje–myocardial junction via a heretofore unrecognized tissue mechanism, whereby DADs in the ventricular myocardium trigger full action potentials in adjacent Purkinje cells.
Daniel J. Blackwell, Michela Faggioni, Matthew J. Wleklinski, Nieves Gomez-Hurtado, Raghav Venkataraman, Chelsea E. Gibbs, Franz J. Baudenbacher, Shiaoching Gong, Glenn I. Fishman, Patrick M. Boyle, Karl Pfeifer, Bjorn C. Knollmann