AIMS: In long QT syndrome (LQTS) patients, modifier genes modulate the arrhythmic risk associated with a disease-causing mutation. Their recognition can improve risk stratification and clinical management, but their discovery represents a challenge. We tested whether a cellular-driven approach could help to identify new modifier genes and especially their mechanism of action. METHODS AND RESULTS: We generated human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CM) from two patients carrying the same KCNQ1-Y111C mutation, but presenting opposite clinical phenotypes. We showed that the phenotype of the iPSC-CMs derived from the symptomatic patient is due to impaired trafficking and increased degradation of the mutant KCNQ1 and wild-type human ether-a-go-go-related gene. In the iPSC-CMs of the asymptomatic (AS) patient, the activity of an E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase (Nedd4L) involved in channel protein degradation was reduced and resulted in a decreased arrhythmogenic substrate. Two single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) on the Myotubularin-related protein 4 (MTMR4) gene, an interactor of Nedd4L, were identified by whole-exome sequencing as potential contributors to decreased Nedd4L activity. Correction of these SNVs by CRISPR/Cas9 unmasked the LQTS phenotype in AS cells. Importantly, the same MTMR4 variants were present in 77% of AS Y111C mutation carriers of a separate cohort. Thus, genetically mediated interference with Nedd4L activation seems associated with protective effects. CONCLUSION: Our finding represents the first demonstration of the cellular mechanism of action of a protective modifier gene in LQTS. It provides new clues for advanced risk stratification and paves the way for the design of new therapies targeting this specific molecular pathway.
- Induced pluripotent stem cells
- Long QT syndrome
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)