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Slowed conduction and ventricular tachycardia after targeted disruption of the cardiac sodium channel gene Scn5a.

Voltage-gated sodium channels drive the initial depolarization phase of the cardiac action potential and therefore critically determine conduction of excitation through the heart. In patients, deletions or loss-of-function mutations of the cardiac sodium channel gene, SCN5A, have been associated with a wide range of arrhythmias including bradycardia (heart rate slowing), atrioventricular conduction delay, and ventricular fibrillation. The pathophysiological basis of these clinical conditions is unresolved. Here we show that disruption of the mouse cardiac sodium channel gene, Scn5a, causes intrauterine lethality in homozygotes with severe defects in ventricular morphogenesis whereas heterozygotes show normal survival. Whole-cell patch clamp analyses of isolated ventricular myocytes from adult Scn5a(+/-) mice demonstrate a approximately 50% reduction in sodium conductance. Scn5a(+/-) hearts have several defects including impaired atrioventricular conduction, delayed intramyocardial conduction, increased ventricular refractoriness, and ventricular tachycardia with characteristics of reentrant excitation. These findings reconcile reduced activity of the cardiac sodium channel leading to slowed conduction with several apparently diverse clinical phenotypes, providing a model for the detailed analysis of the pathophysiology of arrhythmias.

Pubmed ID: 11972032


  • Papadatos GA
  • Wallerstein PM
  • Head CE
  • Ratcliff R
  • Brady PA
  • Benndorf K
  • Saumarez RC
  • Trezise AE
  • Huang CL
  • Vandenberg JI
  • Colledge WH
  • Grace AA


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Publication Data

April 30, 2002

Associated Grants


Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival
  • Electrocardiography
  • Electrophysiology
  • Exons
  • Heterozygote
  • Homozygote
  • Mice
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • NAV1.5 Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Perfusion
  • Phenotype
  • Sodium Channels
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular