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Computational Models for Understanding of Structure, Function and Pharmacology of the Cardiac Potassium Channel Kv11.1 (hERG)

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 23 ]


Soren Wacker, Sergei Yu. Noskov and Laura L. Perissinotti   Pages 2681 - 2702 ( 22 )


The rapid delayed rectifier current IKr is one of the major K+ currents involved in repolarization of the human cardiac action potential. Various inherited or drug-induced forms of the long QT syndrome (LQTS) in humans are linked to functional and structural modifications in the IKr conducting channels. IKr is carried by the potassium channel Kv11.1 encoded by the gene KCNH2 (commonly referred to as human ether-a-go-go-related gene or hERG) [1, 2]. The first necessary step for predicting emergent drug effects on the heart is determining and modeling the binding thermodynamics and kinetics of primary and major off-target drug interactions with subcellular targets. The bulk of drugs that target hERG channels are known to have complex interactions at the atomic scale. Accordingly, one of the goals for this review is to provide comprehensive guide in the universe of computational models aiming to refine our understanding of structure-function relations in Kv11.1 and its isoforms. The special emphasis is placed on the mapping of drug binding sites and tentative mechanisms of channel inhibition and activation by drugs. An overview over recent structural models and mapping of binding sites for blockers and activators of IKr current along with the discussion on agreements and discrepancies among different models is presented. There is an apparent reciprocity or feedback loop between drug binding and action potential of the cardiac myocytes. Thus one has to connect drug binding to a particular receptor so that its functional consequences impact on the action potential duration. The natural pathway is to develop multi-scale models that connect between receptor and cellular scales. The potential for such multi-scale model development is discussed through the lens of common gating models. Accordingly, the second part of this review covers an ongoing development of the kinetic models of gating transitions and cardiac ion currents carried by hERG channels with and without drug bound.


KCNH2, hERG: Kv11.1a/b: specific isoforms; IKr channel: mixture of channels in the context of the human heart; IKr: The cardiac rapid delayed rectifier potassium current of the ventricular action potential, LQTS, AP.


Department of Biology, Centre for Molecular Simulation, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive, Calgary, Alberta, Department of Biology, Centre for Molecular Simulation, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive, Calgary, Alberta, Centre for Molecular Simulation, Department of Biology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive, Calgary, Alberta

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