Mechanical modulation of the transverse tubular system of ventricular cardiomyocytes.
McNary TG., Spitzer KW., Holloway H., Bridge JHB., Kohl P., Sachse FB.
In most mammalian cardiomyocytes, the transverse tubular system (t-system) is a major site for electrical signaling and excitation-contraction coupling. The t-system consists of membrane invaginations, which are decorated with various proteins involved in excitation-contraction coupling and mechano-electric feedback. Remodeling of the t-system has been reported for cells in culture and various types of heart disease. In this paper, we provide insights into effects of mechanical strain on the t-system in rabbit left ventricular myocytes. Based on fluorescent labeling, three-dimensional scanning confocal microscopy, and digital image analysis, we studied living and fixed isolated cells in different strain conditions. We extracted geometric features of transverse tubules (t-tubules) and characterized their arrangement with respect to the Z-disk. In addition, we studied the t-system in cells from hearts fixed either at zero left ventricular pressure (slack), at 30 mmHg (volume overload), or during lithium-induced contracture, using transmission electron microscopy. Two-dimensional image analysis was used to extract features of t-tubule cross-sections. Our analyses of confocal microscopic images showed that contracture at the cellular level causes deformation of the t-system, increasing the length and volume of t-tubules, and altering their cross-sectional shape. TEM data reconfirmed the presence of mechanically induced changes in t-tubular cross sections. In summary, our studies suggest that passive longitudinal stretching and active contraction of ventricular cardiomyocytes affect the geometry of t-tubules. This confirms that mechanical changes at cellular levels could promote alterations in partial volumes that would support a convection-assisted mode of exchange between the t-system content and extracellular space.