J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Aug 26;64(8):745-56.

Milano A, Vermeer AM, Lodder EM, Barc J, Verkerk AO, Postma AV, van der Bilt IA, Baars MJ, van Haelst PL, Caliskan K, Hoedemaekers YM, Le Scouarnec S, Redon R, Pinto YM, Christiaans I, Wilde AA, Bezzina CR.


Familial forms of primary sinus bradycardia have sometimes been attributed to mutations in HCN4, SCN5A, and ANK2. In these studies, no structural cardiac alterations were reported in mutation carriers. However, a cluster of reports in the literature describe patients presenting with sinus bradycardia in association with left ventricular noncompaction cardiomyopathy (LVNC), pointing to a shared genetic cause.

This study sought to identify the genetic defect underlying the combined clinical presentation of bradycardia and LVNC, hypothesizing that these 2 clinical abnormalities have a common genetic cause.

Exome sequencing was carried out in 2 cousins from the index family that were affected by the combined bradycardia-LVNC phenotype; shared variants thus identified were subsequently overlaid with the chromosomal regions shared among 5 affected family members that were identified using single nucleotide polymorphism array analysis.

The combined linkage analysis and exome sequencing in the index family identified 11 novel variants shared among the 2 affected cousins. One of these, p.Gly482Arg in HCN4, segregated with the combined bradycardia and LVNC phenotype in the entire family. Subsequent screening of HCN4 in 3 additional families with the same clinical combination of bradycardia and LVNC identified HCN4 mutations in each. In electrophysiological studies, all found HCN4 mutations showed a more negative voltage dependence of activation, consistent with the observed bradycardia.

Although mutations in HCN4 have been previously linked to bradycardia, our study provides the first evidence to our knowledge that mutations in this ion channel gene also may be associated with structural abnormalities of the myocardium.