Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 118 (33) - [2021-08-17; online 2021-08-11]
The voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.5 initiates the cardiac action potential. Alterations of its activation and inactivation properties due to mutations can cause severe, life-threatening arrhythmias. Yet despite intensive research efforts, many functional aspects of this cardiac channel remain poorly understood. For instance, Nav1.5 undergoes extensive posttranslational modification in vivo, but the functional significance of these modifications is largely unexplored, especially under pathological conditions. This is because most conventional approaches are unable to insert metabolically stable posttranslational modification mimics, thus preventing a precise elucidation of the contribution by these modifications to channel function. Here, we overcome this limitation by using protein semisynthesis of Nav1.5 in live cells and carry out complementary molecular dynamics simulations. We introduce metabolically stable phosphorylation mimics on both wild-type (WT) and two pathogenic long-QT mutant channel backgrounds and decipher functional and pharmacological effects with unique precision. We elucidate the mechanism by which phosphorylation of Y1495 impairs steady-state inactivation in WT Nav1.5. Surprisingly, we find that while the Q1476R patient mutation does not affect inactivation on its own, it enhances the impairment of steady-state inactivation caused by phosphorylation of Y1495 through enhanced unbinding of the inactivation particle. We also show that both phosphorylation and patient mutations can impact Nav1.5 sensitivity toward the clinically used antiarrhythmic drugs quinidine and ranolazine, but not flecainide. The data highlight that functional effects of Nav1.5 phosphorylation can be dramatically amplified by patient mutations. Our work is thus likely to have implications for the interpretation of mutational phenotypes and the design of future drug regimens.