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Phosphorylation of ion channels plays an important role in the regulation of cardiac function, but signaling mechanisms controlling dephosphorylation are not well understood. We have tested the hypothesis that p(21)-activated kinase-1 (Pak1), a serine-threonine protein kinase regulated by Ras-related small G proteins, regulates sinoatrial node (SAN) ion channel activity through a mechanism involving protein phosphatase 2A. We report a novel role of Pak1-mediated signaling in attenuating isoproterenol-induced enhancement of L-type Ca(2+) current (I(CaL)) and delayed rectifier potassium current (I(K)) in guinea pig SAN pacemaker cells. We demonstrate that in guinea pig SAN: (1) there is abundant expression of endogenous Pak1 in pacemaker cells; (2) expression of constitutively active Pak1 depresses isoproterenol-induced upregulation of I(CaL) and I(K); (3) inhibition of protein phosphatase 2A increases the enhancement of I(K) and I(CaL) by isoproterenol in Ad-Pak1-infected cells; (4) protein phosphatase 2A coimmunoprecipitates with endogenous Pak1 in SAN tissue; and (5) expression of constitutively active Pak1 suppresses the chronotropic action of isoproterenol on pacemaker activity of intact SAN preparations. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that a Pak1 signaling pathway exists in cardiac pacemaker cells and that this novel pathway plays a role in the regulation of ion channel activity.

Original publication




Journal article


Circ Res

Publication Date





1317 - 1327


Animals, Calcium Channels, L-Type, Delayed Rectifier Potassium Channels, Female, Guinea Pigs, Heart Rate, Isoproterenol, Phosphoprotein Phosphatases, Protein Phosphatase 2, Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases, Sinoatrial Node, Transfection, p21-Activated Kinases