Regulation of basal and reserve cardiac pacemaker function by interactions of cAMP-mediated PKA-dependent Ca2+ cycling with surface membrane channels

Tatiana M. Vinogradova, Edward G. Lakatta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Decades of intensive research of primary cardiac pacemaker, the sinoatrial node, have established potential roles of specific membrane channels in the generation of the diastolic depolarization, the major mechanism allowing sinoatrial node cells to generate spontaneous beating. During the last three decades, multiple studies made either in the isolated sinoatrial node or sinoatrial node cells have demonstrated a pivotal role of Ca2+ and, specifically Ca2+ release from sarcoplasmic reticulum, for spontaneous beating of cardiac pacemaker. Recently, spontaneous, rhythmic local subsarcolemmal Ca2+ releases from ryanodine receptors during late half of the diastolic depolarization have been implicated as a vital factor in the generation of sinoatrial node cell spontaneous firing. Local Ca2+ releases are driven by a unique combination of high basal cAMP production by adenylyl cyclases, high basal cAMP degradation by phosphodiesterases and a high level of cAMP-mediated PKA-dependent phosphorylation. These local Ca2+ releases activate an inward Na+-Ca2+ exchange current which accelerates the terminal diastolic depolarization rate and, thus, controls the spontaneous pacemaker firing. Both the basal primary pacemaker beating rate and its modulation via β-adrenergic receptor stimulation appear to be critically dependent upon intact RyR function and local subsarcolemmal sarcoplasmic reticulum generated Ca2+ releases. This review aspires to integrate the traditional viewpoint that has emphasized the supremacy of the ensemble of surface membrane ion channels in spontaneous firing of the primary cardiac pacemaker, and these novel perspectives of cAMP-mediated PKA-dependent Ca2+ cycling in regulation of the heart pacemaker clock, both in the basal state and during β-adrenergic receptor stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-474
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Beta-adrenergic receptor stimulation
  • Ionic channels
  • Local Ca release
  • Phosphodiesterase
  • Ryanodine receptor
  • Sinoatrial nodal cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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