Reconstruction of cell surface densities of ion pumps, exchangers, and channels from mRNA expression, conductance kinetics, whole-cell calcium, and current-clamp voltage recordings, with an application to human uterine smooth muscle cells

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Atia, Jolene ; McCloskey, Conor ; Shmygol, Anatoly ; Rand, D. A. (David A.) ; Berg, Hugo van den ; Blanks, Andrew M. (2016)
  • Publisher: Public Library of Science
  • Journal: PLoS Computational Biology, volume 12, issue 4 (issn: 1553-734X, eissn: 1553-7358)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC4841602, doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004828
  • Subject: Cell Membranes | Research Article | Anatomy | Calcium Channels | Reproductive System | Physical Sciences | Uterus | Potassium Channels | Proteins | Physics | Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels | Biophysics | QP | Biology and Life Sciences | Neuroscience | Physiology | Calcium-Activated Potassium Channels | Ion Channels | Myometrium | Cell Biology | Electrophysiology | Cellular Structures and Organelles | Biochemistry | Membrane Potential | Medicine and Health Sciences | Voltage-Gated Ion Channels | Neurophysiology

Uterine smooth muscle cells remain quiescent throughout most of gestation, only generating spontaneous action potentials immediately prior to, and during, labor. This study presents a method that combines transcriptomics with biophysical recordings to characterise the conductance repertoire of these cells, the ‘conductance repertoire’ being the total complement of ion channels and transporters expressed by an electrically active cell. Transcriptomic analysis provides a set of potential electrogenic entities, of which the conductance repertoire is a subset. Each entity within the conductance repertoire was modeled independently and its gating parameter values were fixed using the available biophysical data. The only remaining free parameters were the surface densities for each entity. We characterise the space of combinations of surface densities (density vectors) consistent with experimentally observed membrane potential and calcium waveforms. This yields insights on the functional redundancy of the system as well as its behavioral versatility. Our approach couples high-throughput transcriptomic data with physiological behaviors in health and disease, and provides a formal method to link genotype to phenotype in excitable systems. We accurately predict current densities and chart functional redundancy. For example, we find that to evoke the observed voltage waveform, the BK channel is functionally redundant whereas hERG is essential. Furthermore, our analysis suggests that activation of calcium-activated chloride conductances by intracellular calcium release is the key factor underlying spontaneous depolarisations.
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