Examining the role of N-linked glycosylation on the maturation and cell surface trafficking of hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) pacemaker channels

Cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer in British Columbia. These diseases include cardiac arrhythmias, which cause the heart to beat too slowly, too quickly, or in an uncoordinated fashion. Arrhythmias arise from dysfunction of the heart’s natural pacemaker: the sinoatrial node. The sinoatrial node consists of a group of cells responsible for generating the electrical impulse that controls normal rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the heart. In order to generate these electrical impulses, these cells possess a group of proteins known as ion channels. These proteins allow ions to selectively cross the cell membrane barrier, generating an electrical impulse that spreads to neighbouring cells. One particularly important family of ion channels are the HCN or ‘pacemaker’ channels which are responsible for generating the spontaneous activity of the sinoatrial node. The assembly and trafficking of these channels to the cell membrane is vital for ensuring our hearts beat in a regular fashion. How the cell accomplishes this task remains an unanswered question. Hamed Nazzarisedeh’s research attempts to uncover the underlying mechanisms that help regulate or contribute to the trafficking of HCN channels in the heart. Specifically, he is examining the role in which N-linked glycosylation of these proteins may factor in this regulation. His research will contribute to further our knowledge about how various forms of cardiovascular disease associated with HCN channel disruption arise in the heart. Ultimately, this work could aid in the discovery of novel treatment strategies.