KCNH2 encodes the Kv11.1 α-subunit that underlies the rapidly activating delayed-rectifier K+ current in the heart. Loss-of-function KCNH2 mutations cause long QT syndrome type 2 (LQT2), and most LQT2-linked missense mutations inhibit the trafficking of Kv11.1 channel protein to the cell surface membrane. Several trafficking-deficient LQT2 mutations (e.g., G601S) generate Kv11.1 proteins that are sequestered in a microtubule-dependent quality control (QC) compartment in the transitional endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We tested the hypothesis that the QC mechanisms that regulate LQT2-linked Kv11.1 protein trafficking are mutation-specific. Confocal imaging analyses of HEK293 cells stably expressing the trafficking-deficient LQT2 mutation F805C showed that, unlike G601S-Kv11.1 protein, F805C-Kv11.1 protein was concentrated in several transitional ER subcompartments. The microtubule depolymerizing drug nocodazole differentially affected G601S- and F805C-Kv11.1 protein immunostaining. Nocodazole caused G601S-Kv11.1 protein to distribute into peripheral reticular structures, and it increased the diffuse immunostaining of F805C-Kv11.1 protein around the transitional ER subcompartments. Proteasome inhibition also affected the immunostaining of G601S- and F805C-Kv11.1 protein differently. Incubating cells in MG132 minimally impacted G601S-Kv11.1 immunostaining, but it dramatically increased the diffuse immunostaining of F805C-Kv11.1 protein in the transitional ER. Similar results were seen after incubating cells in the proteasome inhibitor lactacystin. Differences in the cellular distribution of G601S-Kv11.1 and F805C-Kv11.1 protein persisted in transfected human inducible pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes. These are the first data to visually demonstrate mutation-specific differences in the trafficking-deficient LQT2 phenotype, and this study has identified a novel way to categorize trafficking-deficient LQT2 mutations based on differences in intracellular retention.

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Published in Frontiers in Physiology, v. 9, article 584, p. 1-11.

Copyright © 2018 Hall, Anderson, Smith, Mirshahi, Elayi, January and Delisle.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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This work was supported by a grant from the American Heart Association Cardiovascular Genome Phenome Discovery Grant (BD) [15CVGPSD27580000] and the Competitive Catalyst Renewal Grant [17CCRG33700289] (BD).