CaMKII and PKA-dependent phosphorylation co-regulate nuclear localization of HDAC4 in adult cardiomyocytes

Kathryn G. Helmstadter, Senka Ljubojevic-Holzer, Brent M. Wood, Khanha D. Taheri, Simon Sedej, Jeffrey R. Erickson, Julie B C Bossuyt, Donald M. Bers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Nuclear histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4) represses MEF2-mediated transcription, implicated in the development of heart failure. CaMKII-dependent phosphorylation drives nucleus-to-cytoplasm HDAC4 shuttling, but protein kinase A (PKA) is also linked to HDAC4 translocation. However, the interplay of CaMKII and PKA in regulating adult cardiomyocyte HDAC4 translocation is unclear. Here we sought to determine the interplay of PKA- and CaMKII-dependent HDAC4 phosphorylation and translocation in adult mouse, rabbit and human ventricular myocytes. Confocal imaging and protein analyses revealed that inhibition of CaMKII—but not PKA, PKC or PKD—raised nucleo-to-cytoplasmic HDAC4 fluorescence ratio (FNuc/FCyto) by ~ 50%, indicating baseline CaMKII activity that limits HDAC4 nuclear localization. Further CaMKII activation (via increased extracellular [Ca2+], high pacing frequencies, angiotensin II or overexpression of CaM or CaMKIIδC) led to significant HDAC4 nuclear export. In contrast, PKA activation by isoproterenol or forskolin drove HDAC4 into the nucleus (raising FNuc/FCyto by > 60%). These PKA-mediated effects were abolished in cells pretreated with PKA inhibitors and in cells expressing mutant HDAC4 in S265/266A mutant. In physiological conditions where both kinases are active, PKA-dependent nuclear accumulation of HDAC4 was predominant in the very early response, while CaMKII-dependent HDAC4 export prevailed upon prolonged stimuli. This orchestrated co-regulation was shifted in failing cardiomyocytes, where CaMKII-dependent effects predominated over PKA-dependent response. Importantly, human cardiomyocytes showed similar CaMKII- and PKA-dependent HDAC4 shifts. Collectively, CaMKII limits nuclear localization of HDAC4, while PKA favors HDAC4 nuclear retention and S265/266 is essential for PKA-mediated regulation. These pathways thus compete in HDAC4 nuclear localization and transcriptional regulation in cardiac signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11
JournalBasic Research in Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Calcium-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CaMKII)
  • Cardiac hypertrophy
  • Histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4)
  • Protein kinase A (PKA)
  • Ventricular remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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