Connexin40 (Cx40) is a major gap junction protein that is expressed in the His-Purkinje system and thought to be a critical determinant of cell-to-cell communication and conduction of electrical impulses. Video maps of the ventricular epicardium and the proximal segment of the fight bundle branch (RBB) were obtained using a high-speed CCD camera while simultaneously recording volume-conducted ECGs. In Cx40(-/-) mice, the PR interval was prolonged (47.4 ± 1.4 in wild-type [WT] [n=6] and 57.5 ± 2.8 in Cx40(-/-) [n=6]; P<0.01). WT ventricular epicardial activation was characterized by focused breakthroughs that originated first on the fight ventricle (RV) and then the left ventricle (LV). In Cx40(-/-) hearts, the RV breakthrough occurred after the LV breakthrough. Additionally, Cx40(-/-) mice showed RV breakthrough times that were significantly delayed with respect to QRS complex onset (3.7 ± 0.7 ms in WT [n=6] and 6.5 ± 0.7 ms in Cx40(-/-) [n=6]; P<0.01), whereas LV breakthrough times did not change. Conduction velocity measurements from optical mapping of the RBB revealed slow conduction in Cx40(-/-) mice (74.5 ± 3 cm/s in WT [n =7] and 43.7 ± 6 cm/s in Cx40(-/-) [n=7]; P<0.01). In addition, simultaneous ECG records demonstrated significant delays in Cx40(-/-) RBB activation time with respect to P time (P-RBB time; 41.6 ± 1.9 ms in WT [n= 7] and 55.1 ± 1.3 ms in [n =7]; P<0.01). These data represent the first direct demonstration of conduction defects in the specialized conduction system of Cx40(-/-) mice and provide new insight into the role of gap junctions in cardiac impulse propagation.
- Knockout mice
- Optical mapping
- Specialized conduction system
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine