Cardiac potassium channel dysfunction in sudden infant death syndrome

Troy E. Rhodes, Robert L. Abraham, Richard C. Welch, Carlos G. Vanoye, Lia Crotti, Marianne Arnestad, Roberto Insolia, Matteo Pedrazzini, Chiara Ferrandi, Ashild Vege, Torleiv Rognum, Dan M. Roden, Peter J. Schwartz, Alfred L. George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Life-threatening arrhythmias have been suspected as one cause of the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and this hypothesis is supported by the observation that mutations in arrhythmia susceptibility genes occur in 5-10% of cases. However, the functional consequences of cardiac potassium channel gene mutations associated with SIDS and how these alleles might mechanistically predispose to sudden death are unknown. To address these questions, we studied four missense KCNH2 (encoding HERG) variants, one compound KCNH2 genotype, and a missense KCNQ1 mutation all previously identified in Norwegian SIDS cases. Three of the six variants exhibited functional impairments while three were biophysically similar to wild-type channels (KCNH2 variants V279M, R885C, and S1040G). When co-expressed with WT-HERG, R273Q and K897T/R954C generated currents resembling the rapid component of the cardiac delayed rectifier current (IKr) but with significantly diminished amplitude. Action potential modeling demonstrated that this level of functional impairment was sufficient to evoke increased action potential duration and pause-dependent early afterdepolarizations. By contrast, KCNQ1-I274V causes a gain-of-function in IKs characterized by increased current density, faster activation, and slower deactivation leading to accumulation of instantaneous current upon repeated stimulation. Action potential simulations using a Markov model of heterozygous I274V-IKs incorporated into the Luo-Rudy (LRd) ventricular cell model demonstrated marked rate-dependent shortening of action potential duration predicting a short QT phenotype. Our results indicate that certain potassium channel mutations associated with SIDS confer overt functional defects consistent with either LQTS or SQTS, and further emphasize the role of congenital arrhythmia susceptibility in this syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-581
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • Genetics
  • Ion channels
  • Long QT syndrome
  • Short QT syndrome
  • Sudden death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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