Glutathionylation-dependence of N+-K+-pump currents can mimic reduced subsarcolemmal Na+ diffusion

10 September 2019

The existence of a subsarcolemmal space with restricted diffusion for Na+ in cardiac myocytes has been inferred from a transient peak electrogenic Na+-K+ pump current beyond steady state on re-exposure of myocytes to K+ after a period of exposure to K+-free extracellular solution. The transient peak current is attributed to enhanced electrogenic pumping of Na+ that accumulated in the diffusion-restricted space during pump inhibition in K+-free extracellular solution. However, there are no known physical barriers that account for such restricted Na+ diffusion, and we examined if changes of activity of the Na+-K+ pump itself cause the transient peak current. Re-exposure to K+ reproduced a transient current beyond steady state in voltage clamped ventricular myocytes as reported by others. Persistence of it when the Na+ concentration in patch pipette solutions perfusing the intracellular compartment was high and elimination of it with K+-free pipette solution could not be reconciled with restricted subsarcolemmal Na+ diffusion. The pattern of the transient current early after pump activation was dependent on transmembrane Na+- and K+ concentration gradients suggesting the currents were related to the conformational poise imposed on the pump. We examined if the currents might be accounted for by changes in glutathionylation of the β1 Na+-K+ pump subunit, a reversible oxidative modification that inhibits the pump. Susceptibility of the β1 subunit to glutathionylation depends on the conformational poise of the Na+-K+ pump, and glutathionylation with the pump stabilized in conformations equivalent to those expected to be imposed on voltage clamped myocytes supported this hypothesis. So did elimination of the transient K+-induced peak Na+-K+ pump current when we included glutaredoxin 1 in patch pipette solutions to reverse gluthathionylation. We conclude that transient K+-induced peak Na+-K+ pump current reflects the effect of conformation-dependent β1 pump subunit glutathionylation, not restricted subsarcolemmal diffusion of Na+.