Conservation of cardiac L-type Ca2+ channels and their regulation in Drosophila: A novel genetically-pliable channelopathic model

Worawan B. Limpitikul, Meera C. Viswanathan, Brian O'Rourke, David T. Yue, Anthony Cammarato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Dysregulation of L-type Ca2+ channels (LTCCs) underlies numerous cardiac pathologies. Understanding their modulation with high fidelity relies on investigating LTCCs in their native environment with intact interacting proteins. Such studies benefit from genetic manipulation of endogenous channels in cardiomyocytes, which often proves cumbersome in mammalian models. Drosophila melanogaster, however, offers a potentially efficient alternative as it possesses a relatively simple heart, is genetically pliable, and expresses well-conserved genes. Fluorescence in situ hybridization confirmed an abundance of Ca-α1D and Ca-α1T mRNA in fly myocardium, which encode subunits that specify hetero-oligomeric channels homologous to mammalian LTCCs and T-type Ca2+ channels, respectively. Cardiac-specific knockdown of Ca-α1D via interfering RNA abolished cardiac contraction, suggesting Ca-α1D (i.e. A1D) represents the primary functioning Ca2+ channel in Drosophila hearts. Moreover, we successfully isolated viable single cardiomyocytes and recorded Ca2+ currents via patch clamping, a feat never before accomplished with the fly model. The profile of Ca2+ currents recorded in individual cells when Ca2+ channels were hypomorphic, absent, or under selective LTCC blockage by nifedipine, additionally confirmed the predominance of A1D current across all activation voltages. T-type current, activated at more negative voltages, was also detected. Lastly, A1D channels displayed Ca2+-dependent inactivation, a critical negative feedback mechanism of LTCCs, and the current through them was augmented by forskolin, an activator of the protein kinase A pathway. In sum, the Drosophila heart possesses a conserved compendium of Ca2+ channels, suggesting that the fly may serve as a robust and effective platform for studying cardiac channelopathies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-74
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
StatePublished - Jun 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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