Na+ channel blockers such as flecainide have found renewed usefulness in the diagnosis and treatment of two clinical syndromes arising from inherited mutations in SCN5A, the gene encoding the α subunit of the cardiac voltage-gated Na+ channel. The Brugada syndrome (BrS) and the LQT-3 variant of the Long QT syndrome are caused by disease-linked SCN5A mutations that act to change functional and pharmacological properties of the channel. Here we have explored a set of SGNSA mutations linked both to BrS and LQT-3 to determine what diseasemodified channel properties underlie distinct responses to the Na+ channel blocker flecainide. We focused on flecainide block that develops with repetitive channel activity, so-called use-dependent block (UDB). Our results indicate that mutation-induced changes in the voltage-dependence of channel availability (inactivation) may act as determinants of flecainide block. The data further indicate that UDB by flecainide requires channel opening, but is not likely due to open channel block. Rather, flecainide appears to interact with inactivation states that follow depolarization-induced channel opening, and mutation-induced changes in channel inactivation will alter flecainide block independent of the disease to which the mutation is linked. Analysis of flecainide block of mutant channels linked to these rare disorders has provided novel insight into the molecular determinants of drug action.
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