A Novel Loss-of-Function Variant in the Chloride Ion Channel Gene Clcn2 Associates with Atrial Fibrillation

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Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia. Its pathogenesis is complex and poorly understood. Whole exome sequencing of Danish families with AF revealed a novel four nucleotide deletion c.1041_1044del in CLCN2 shared by affected individuals. We aimed to investigate the role of genetic variation of CLCN2 encoding the inwardly rectifying chloride channel ClC-2 as a risk factor for the development of familiar AF. The effect of the CLCN2 variant was evaluated by electrophysiological recordings on transiently transfected cells. We used quantitative PCR to assess CLCN2 mRNA expression levels in human atrial and ventricular tissue samples. The nucleotide deletion CLCN2 c.1041_1044del results in a frame-shift and premature stop codon. The truncated ClC-2 p.V347fs channel does not conduct current. Co-expression with wild-type ClC-2, imitating the heterozygote state of the patients, resulted in a 50% reduction in macroscopic current, suggesting an inability of truncated ClC-2 protein to form channel complexes with wild type channel subunits. Quantitative PCR experiments using human heart tissue from healthy donors demonstrated that CLCN2 is expressed across all four heart chambers. Our genetic and functional data points to a possible link between loss of ClC-2 function and an increased risk of developing AF.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1453
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2020

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