shRNAs Targeting a Common KCNQ1 Variant Could Alleviate Long-QT1 Disease Severity by Inhibiting a Mutant Allele

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Long-QT syndrome type 1 (LQT1) is caused by mutations in KCNQ1. Patients heterozygous for such a mutation co-assemble both mutant and wild-type KCNQ1-encoded subunits into tetrameric Kv7.1 potassium channels. Here, we investigated whether allele-specific inhibition of mutant KCNQ1 by targeting a common variant can shift the balance towards increased incorporation of the wildtype allele to alleviate the disease in human-induced pluripotent stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs). We identified the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) rs1057128 (G/A) in KCNQ1, with a heterozygosity of 27% in the European population. Next, we determined allele-specificity of short-hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) targeting either allele of this SNP in hiPSC-CMs that carry an LQT1 mutation. Our shRNAs downregulated 60% of the A allele and 40% of the G allele without affecting the non-targeted allele. Suppression of the mutant KCNQ1 allele by 60% decreased the occurrence of arrhythmic events in hiPSC-CMs measured by a voltage-sensitive reporter, while suppression of the wild-type allele increased the occurrence of arrhythmic events. Furthermore, computer simulations based on another LQT1 mutation revealed that 60% suppression of the mutant KCNQ1 allele shortens the prolonged action potential in an adult cardiomyocyte model. We conclude that allele-specific inhibition of a mutant KCNQ1 allele by targeting a common variant may alleviate the disease. This novel approach avoids the need to design shRNAs to target every single mutation and opens up the exciting possibility of treating multiple LQT1-causing mutations with only two shRNAs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4053
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • RNA interference
  • arrhythmia
  • gene therapy
  • hiPSC-cardiomyocytes
  • long-QT syndrome type 1

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