Flotillins in the intercalated disc are potential modulators of cardiac excitability

Elise L. Kessler*, Leonie van Stuijvenberg, Joanne J.A. van Bavel, Joëlle van Bennekom, Anne Zwartsen, Mathilde R. Rivaud, Aryan Vink, Igor R. Efimov, Alex V. Postma, J. Peter van Tintelen, Carol A. Remme, Marc A. Vos, Antje Banning, Teun P. de Boer, Ritva Tikkanen, Toon A.B. van Veen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The intercalated disc (ID) is important for cardiac remodeling and has become a subject of intensive research efforts. However, as yet the composition of the ID has still not been conclusively resolved and the role of many proteins identified in the ID, like Flotillin-2, is often unknown. The Flotillin proteins are known to be involved in the stabilization of cadherins and desmosomes in the epidermis and upon cancer development. However, their role in the heart has so far not been investigated. Therefore, in this study, we aimed at identifying the role of Flotillin-1 and Flotillin-2 in the cardiac ID. Methods: Location of Flotillins in human and murine cardiac tissue was evaluated by fluorescent immunolabeling and co-immunoprecipitation. In addition, the effect of Flotillin knockout (KO) on proteins of the ID and in electrical excitation and conduction was investigated in cardiac samples of wildtype (WT), Flotillin-1 KO, Flotilin-2 KO and Flotilin-1/2 double KO mice. Consequences of Flotillin knockdown (KD) on cardiac function were studied (patch clamp and Multi Electrode Array (MEA)) in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes (NRCMs) transfected with siRNAs against Flotillin-1 and/or Flotillin-2. Results: First, we confirmed presence in the ID and mutual binding of Flotillin-1 and Flotillin-2 in murine and human cardiac tissue. Flotillin KO mice did not show cardiac fibrosis, nor hypertrophy or changes in expression of the desmosomal ID proteins. However, protein expression of the cardiac sodium channel NaV1.5 was significantly decreased in Flotillin-1 and Flotillin-1/2 KO mice compared to WT mice. In addition, sodium current density showed a significant decrease upon Flotillin-1/2 KD in NRCMs as compared to scrambled siRNA-transfected NRCMs. MEA recordings of Flotillin-2 KD NRCM cultures showed a significantly decreased spike amplitude and a tendency of a reduced spike slope when compared to control and scrambled siRNA-transfected cultures. Conclusions: In this study, we demonstrate the presence of Flotillin-1, in addition to Flotillin-2 in the cardiac ID. Our findings indicate a modulatory role of Flotillins on NaV1.5 expression at the ID, with potential consequences for cardiac excitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-95
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Cardiac excitation
  • Desmosome
  • Flotillin
  • Intercalated disc
  • Na1.5
  • Reggie

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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