Loss of p21-activated kinase 1 (Pak1) promotes atrial arrhythmic activity

Jaime DeSantiago, Dan J. Bare, Disha Varma, R. John Solaro, Rishi Arora, Kathrin Banach*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is initiated through arrhythmic atrial excitation from outside the sinus node or remodeling of atrial tissue that allows reentry of excitation. Angiotensin II (AngII) has been implicated in the initiation and maintenance of AF through changes in Ca 2+ handling and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Objective: We aimed to determine the role of p21-activated kinase 1 (Pak1), a downstream target in the AngII signaling cascade, in atrial electrophysiology and arrhythmia. Methods: Wild-type and Pak1 −/− mice were used to determine atrial function in vivo on the organ and cellular level by quantification of electrophysiological and Ca 2+ handling properties. Results: We demonstrate that reduced Pak1 activity increases the inducibility of atrial arrhythmia in vivo and in vitro. On the cellular level, Pak1 −/− atrial myocytes (AMs) exhibit increased basal and AngII (1 μM)–induced ROS production, sensitivity to the NADPH oxidase-2 (NOX2) inhibitors gp91ds-tat and apocynin (1 μM), and enhanced membrane translocation of Ras-related C3 substrate 1 (Rac1) that is part of the multimolecular NOX2 complex. Upon stimulation with AngII, Pak1 −/− AMs exhibit an exaggerated increase in the intracellular Calcium concentration ([Ca 2+ ] i ) and arrhythmic events that were sensitive to sodium-calcium exchanger (NCX) inhibitors (KB-R7943 and SEA0400; 1 μM) and suppressed in AMs from NOX2-deficient (gp91 phox−/− ) mice. Pak1 stimulation (FTY720; 200 nM) in wild-type AMs and AMs from a canine model of ventricular tachypacing–induced AF prevented AngII-induced arrhythmic Ca 2+ overload by attenuating NCX activity in a NOX2-dependent manner. Conclusion: The experimental results support that Pak1 stimulation can attenuate NCX-dependent Ca 2+ overload and prevent triggered arrhythmic activity by suppressing NOX2-dependent ROS production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1241
Number of pages9
JournalHeart rhythm
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Excitation-contraction coupling
  • NADPH oxidase-2
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • p21-activated kinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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