PubMed 15368340

Referenced in Channelpedia wiki pages of: none

Automatically associated channels: HCN3 , HCN4

Title: Structure-function relationship in the AV junction.

Authors: Igor R Efimov, Vladimir P Nikolski, Florence Rothenberg, Ian D Greener, Jue Li, Halina Dobrzynski, Mark Boyett

Journal, date & volume: , 2004 Oct , 280, 952-65

PubMed link:

In the normal heart, the atrioventricular node (AVN) is part of the sole pathway between the atria and ventricles. Under normal physiological conditions, the AVN controls appropriate frequency-dependent delay of contractions. The AVN also plays an important role in pathology: it protects ventricles during atrial tachyarrhythmia, and during sinoatrial node failure an AV junctional pacemaker can drive the heart. Finally, the AV junction provides an anatomical substrate for reentry. Using fluorescent imaging with voltage-sensitive dyes and immunohistochemistry, we have investigated the structure-function relationship of the AV junction during normal conduction, reentry, and junctional rhythm. We identified molecular and structural heterogeneity that provides a substrate for the dual-pathway AVN conduction. We observed heterogeneity of expression of three isoforms of connexins: Cx43, Cx45, and Cx40. We identified the site of origin of junctional rhythm at the posterior extension of the AV node in 79% (n = 14) of the studied hearts. This structure was similar to the compact AV node as determined by morphologic and molecular investigations. In particular, both the posterior extension and the compact node express the pacemaking channel HCN4 (responsible for the I(F) current) and neurofilament 160. In the rabbit heart, AV junction conduction, reentrant arrhythmia, and spontaneous rhythm are governed by heterogeneity of expression of several isoforms of gap junctions and ion channels. Uniform neurofilament expression suggests that AV nodal posterior extensions are an integral part of the cardiac pacemaking and conduction system. On the other hand, differential expression of Cx isoforms in this region provides an explanation of longitudinal dissociation, dual-pathway electrophysiology, and AV nodal reentrant arrhythmogenesis.