Cardiac myocyte calcium transport in phospholamban knockout mouse: Relaxation and endogenous CaMKII effects

Li Li, Guoxiang Chu, Evangelia G. Kranias, Donald M Bers

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186 Scopus citations


Increases in heart rate are accompanied by acceleration of relaxation. This effect is apparent at the single myocyte level and depends on sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca transport and Ca/calmodulin dependent protein kinase [CaMKII; see R. A. Bassani, A. Mattiazzi, and D. M. Bers. Am. J. Physiol. 268 (Heart Circ. Physiol. 37): H703-H712, 1995]. Because phosphorylation of phospholamban (PLB) by CaMKII can stimulate SR Ca transport, it is a plausible candidate mechanism. We examined this issue using ventricular myocytes isolated from wild-type (WT) mice and those in which the PLB gene was ablated by gene targeting (PLB-KO). During steady-state (SS) stimulation, twitch relaxation and intracellular Ca concentration ([Ca]i) decline were significantly faster than after a rest in both WT and PLB-KO myocytes. Furthermore, the CaMKII inhibitor KN-93 (1 μM) abolished the stimulation-dependent acceleration of twitch [Ca]i decline in PLB-KO. This indicates that neither PLB nor its phosphorylation are required for the CaMKII-dependent acceleration of the SS twitch [Ca]i decline and relaxation. Other quantitative aspects of Ca transport in WT and PLB-KO myocytes were also examined. As expected, the time constant (T) of [Ca]i decline during the SS twitch is much faster in PLB-KO than in WT myocytes (112 ± 6 vs. 188 ± 14 ms, P < 0.0001). There was also an increase in SS SR Ca load, based on the change of [Ca]i during rapid caffeine-induced contractures (CafC) with Na/Ca exchange blocked (565 ± 74 nM for WT, 1118 ± 133 nM for PLB-KO, P < 0.01). Accounting for cytosolic Ca buffering, this implies a 37% increase in SR Ca content. The τ for [Ca]i decline of the CafC with Na present indicated slower extrusion by Na/Ca exchange in the PLB-KO mouse (2.2 ± 0.2 s in WT vs. 3.2 ± 0.2 s in PLB-KO, P < 0.01), although exchanger protein expression was unchanged. Integrated Ca flux analysis in WT and PLB-KO myocytes, respectively, shows that 90 and 96% of Ca during twitch relaxation is removed by the SR Ca-ATPase, 9 and 3.4% by Na/Ca exchange, and 0.5 and 0.1% by slow mechanisms (mitochondria Ca uniporter and sarcolemmal Ca-ATPase). We conclude that the PLB-KO myocytes retain a CaMKII-dependent acceleration of SS twitch [Ca]i decline. The PLB-KO (vs. WT) myocytes also have higher SR Ca pump activity, higher SR Ca load, and reduced Na/Ca exchange activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcium flux
  • Sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium-adenosinetriphosphatase
  • Sodium-calcium exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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