Loss of SPEG Inhibitory Phosphorylation of RyR2 Promotes Atrial Fibrillation

Hannah M Campbell, Ann P Quick, Issam Abu-Taha, David Y Chiang, Carlos F Kramm, Tarah A Word, Sören Brandenburg, Mohit Hulsurkar, Katherina M Alsina, Hui-Bin Liu, Brian Martin, Dennis Uhlenkamp, Oliver M Moore, Satadru K Lahiri, Eleonora Corradini, Markus Kamler, Albert J R Heck, Stephan E Lehnart, Dobromir Dobrev, Xander H T Wehrens
Circulation 2020 July 20
Background: Enhanced diastolic calcium (Ca2+ ) release via ryanodine receptor type-2 (RyR2) has been implicated in atrial fibrillation (AF) promotion. Diastolic sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ leak is caused by increased RyR2 phosphorylation by protein kinase A (PKA) or Ca2+ /calmodulin-dependent kinase-II (CaMKII) phosphorylation, or less dephosphorylation by protein phosphatases. However, considerable controversy remains regarding the molecular mechanisms underlying altered RyR2 function in AF. We thus sought to determine the role of 'striated muscle preferentially expressed protein kinase' (SPEG), a novel regulator of RyR2 phosphorylation, in AF pathogenesis. Methods: Western blotting was performed with right atrial biopsies from paroxysmal (p)AF patients. SPEG atrial knock-out (aKO) mice were generated using adeno-associated virus 9 (AAV9). In mice, AF inducibility was determined using intracardiac programmed electrical stimulation (PES), and diastolic Ca2+ leak in atrial cardiomyocytes was assessed using confocal Ca2+ imaging. Phospho-proteomics studies and western blotting were used to measure RyR2 phosphorylation. In order to test the effects of RyR2-S2367 phosphorylation, knock-in mice with an inactivated S2367 phosphorylation site (S2367A) and a constitutively activated S2367 residue (S2367D) were generated using CRISPR-Cas9. Results: Western blotting revealed decreased SPEG protein levels in atrial biopsies from pAF patients in comparison to patients in sinus rhythm. SPEG aKO mice exhibited increased susceptibility to pacing-induced AF by PES and enhanced Ca2+ spark frequency in atrial cardiomyocytes with Ca2+ imaging, establishing a causal role for decreased SPEG in AF pathogenesis. Phospho-proteomics in hearts from SPEG cardiomyocyte knock-out mice identified RyR2-S2367 as a novel kinase substrate of SPEG. Additionally, western blotting demonstrated that RyR2-S2367 phosphorylation was also decreased in pAF patients. RyR2-S2367A mice exhibited an increased susceptibility to pacing-induced AF as well as aberrant atrial SR Ca2+ leak. In contrast, RyR2-S2367D mice were resistant to pacing-induced AF. Conclusions: Unlike other kinases (PKA, CaMKII) that increase RyR2 activity, SPEG phosphorylation reduces RyR2-mediated SR Ca2+ -release. Reduced SPEG levels and RyR2-S2367 phosphorylation typified patients with pAF. Studies in S2367 knock-in mouse models showed a causal relationship between reduced S2367 phosphorylation and AF susceptibility. Thus, modulating SPEG activity and phosphorylation levels of the novel S2367 site on RyR2 may represent a novel target for AF treatment.

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