The physiological role of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) in cardiomyocytes remains unclear. Using spontaneously beating neonatal ventricular cardiomyocytes from wild-type (WT) or CFTR knockout (KO) mice, we examined the role of CFTR in the modulation of cardiomyocyte contraction rate. Contraction rates of spontaneously beating myocytes were captured by video imaging. Real-time changes in intracellular ([Ca2+]i) and protein kinase A (PKA) activity were measured by fura-2 and fluorescence resonance energy transfer, respectively. Acute inhibition of CFTR in WT cardiomyocytes using the CFTR inhibitor CFTRinh-172 transiently inhibited the contraction rate. By contrast, cardiomyocytes from CFTR KO mice displayed normal contraction rates. Further investigation revealed that acute inhibition of CFTR activity in WT cardiomyoctyes activated L-type Ca2+ channels, leading to a transient increase of [Ca2+]i and inhibition of PKA activity. Additionally, we found that contraction rate normalization following acute CFTR inhibition in WT cardiomyocytes or chronic deletion in cardiomyocytes from CFTR KO mice requires the activation of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII) and Ca2+-activated Cl- channels (CaCC) because simultaneous addition of myristoylated-autocamtide-2-related inhibitory peptide or niflumic acid and CFTRinh-172 to WT cardiomyocytes or treatment of cardiomyoctes from CFTR KO mice with these agents caused sustained attenuation of contraction rates. Our results demonstrate that regulation of cardiomyocyte contraction involves CFTR. They also reveal that activation of CaMKII and CaCC compensates for loss of CFTR function. Increased dependence on CaMKII upon loss of CFTR function might leave cystic fibrosis patients at increased risk of heart dysfunction and disease.
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