Scientific reports

Vinculin variant M94I identified in sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome decreases cardiac sodium current.

PMID 28218286


Sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome (SUNDS) remains an autopsy negative disorder with unclear etiology. Vinculin (VCL) was linked to sudden arrhythmia death in VCL knockout mice prior to the appearance of cardiomyopathy. We hypothesized VCL mutations underlie risk for SUNDS. A rare heterozygous variant VCL-M94I was found in a SUNDS victim who suffered sudden nocturnal tachypnea and lacked pathogenic variants in known arrhythmia-causing genes. VCL was identified to interact with SCN5A in vitro/vivo. The VCL-M94I was co-expressed with the cardiac sodium channel in HEK293 cells and also overexpressed in induced pluripotent stem cells derived cardiomyocytes (iPSCs-CM). In HEK293 cells with pH 7.4, VCL-M94I caused ~30% decrease in peak sodium current (INa) amplitude compared to WT; under acidotic conditions (pH 7.0) typically found with hypoxia during sleep apnea, M94I resulted in 37% reduction in peak INa compared to WT and the combination of VCL-M94I and pH 7.0 decreased peak INa by ~56% compared to WT at pH 7.4. In iPSCs-CM, similar effects of M94I on reduction of peak INa were observed. This study initially shows both physical and functional interaction between VCL and cardiac sodium channel, and suggests an important role for respiratory acidosis in triggering the fatal arrhythmia underlying SUNDS.