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This article has been peer reviewed and is published in Circulation.

Volume 125, Issue 17, 1 May 2012, Pages 2108-2118.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.044255. © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.


BACKGROUND: G-protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2) is a primary regulator of β-adrenergic signaling in the heart. G-protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 ablation impedes heart failure development, but elucidation of the cellular mechanisms has not been achieved, and such elucidation is the aim of this study.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Myocyte contractility, Ca(2+) handling and excitation-contraction coupling were studied in isolated cardiomyocytes from wild-type and GRK2 knockout (GRK2KO) mice without (sham) or with myocardial infarction (MI). In cardiac myocytes isolated from unstressed wild-type and GRK2KO hearts, myocyte contractions and Ca(2+) transients were similar, but GRK2KO myocytes had lower sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca(2+) content because of increased sodium-Ca(2+) exchanger activity and inhibited SR Ca(2+) ATPase by local protein kinase A-mediated activation of phosphodiesterase 4 resulting in hypophosphorylated phospholamban. This Ca(2+) handling phenotype is explained by a higher fractional SR Ca(2+) release induced by increased L-type Ca(2+) channel currents. After β-adrenergic stimulation, GRK2KO myocytes revealed significant increases in contractility and Ca(2+) transients, which were not mediated through cardiac L-type Ca(2+) channels but through an increased SR Ca(2+). Interestingly, post-MI GRK2KO mice showed better cardiac function than post-MI control mice, which is explained by an improved Ca(2+) handling phenotype. The SR Ca(2+) content was better maintained in post-MI GRK2KO myocytes than in post-MI control myocytes because of better-maintained L-type Ca(2+) channel current density and no increase in sodium-Ca(2+) exchanger in GRK2KO myocytes. An L-type Ca(2+) channel blocker, verapamil, reversed some beneficial effects of GRK2KO.

CONCLUSIONS: These data argue for novel differential regulation of L-type Ca(2+) channel currents and SR load by GRK2. G-protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 ablation represents a novel beneficial Ca(2+) handling phenotype resisting adverse remodeling after MI.

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