• urocortin 2;
  • ventricular myocyte;
  • mouse;
  • protein kinase A;
  • Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Urocortin 2 is beneficial in heart failure, but the underlying cellular mechanisms are not completely understood. Here we have characterized the functional effects of urocortin 2 on mouse cardiomyocytes and elucidated the underlying signalling pathways and mechanisms.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH Mouse ventricular myocytes were field-stimulated at 0.5 Hz at room temperature. Fractional shortening and [Ca2+]i transients were measured by an edge detection and epifluorescence system respectively. Western blots were carried out on myocyte extracts with antibodies against total phospholamban (PLN) and PLN phosphorylated at serine-16.

KEY RESULTS Urocortin 2 elicited time- and concentration-dependent positive inotropic and lusitropic effects (EC50: 19 nM) that were abolished by antisauvagine-30 (10 nM, n= 6), a specific antagonist of corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF) CRF2 receptors. Urocortin 2 (100 nM) increased the amplitude and decreased the time constant of decay of the underlying [Ca2+]i transients. Urocortin 2 also increased PLN phosphorylation at serine-16. H89 (2 µM) or KT5720 (1 µM), two inhibitors of protein kinase A (PKA), as well as KN93 (1 µM), an inhibitor of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), suppressed the urocortin 2 effects on shortening and [Ca2+]i transients. In addition, urocortin 2 also elicited arrhythmogenic events consisting of extra cell shortenings and extra [Ca2+]i increases in diastole. Urocortin 2-induced arrhythmogenic events were significantly reduced in cells pretreated with KT5720 or KN93.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS Urocortin 2 enhanced contractility in mouse ventricular myocytes via activation of CRF2 receptors in a cAMP/PKA- and Ca2+/CaMKII-dependent manner. This enhancement was accompanied by Ca2+-dependent arrhythmogenic effects mediated by PKA and CaMKII.