Electrical activation of the myocardium to produce effective pumping of blood depends on the orderly coordinated spatial and temporal transfer of current from one cell to another via gap junctions. Normal ventricular myocytes are extensively coupled by gap junctions and have the capacity to rapidly increase the amount of connexin within gap junction plaques to meet physiological demands for enhanced cell-cell communication. However, myocytes can also rapidly uncouple in response to injury or disease. In general, both acute and chronic forms of heart disease caused by diverse etiologies are associated with changes in the expression of connexins and remodeling of gap junctions. Such remodeling may have both adaptive and maladaptive consequences and contribute to major clinical processes such as heart failure and sudden cardiac death. Our laboratory has investigated mechanisms regulating cell-cell electrical coupling in the heart under physiological and pathophysiological conditions. This review is focused on selected aspects of this work pertaining to changes in coupling in response to acute and chronic ischemic heart disease and in familial cardiomyopathies caused by mutations in genes encoding desmosomal proteins.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 22, 2007
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