AIMS: We identified a novel homozygous truncating mutation in the gene encoding alpha kinase 3 (ALPK3) in a family presenting with paediatric cardiomyopathy. A recent study identified biallelic truncating mutations of ALPK3 in three unrelated families; therefore, there is strong genetic evidence that ALPK3 mutation causes cardiomyopathy. This study aimed to clarify the mutation mechanism and investigate the molecular and cellular pathogenesis underlying ALPK3-mediated cardiomyopathy.
METHODS AND RESULTS: We performed detailed clinical and genetic analyses of a consanguineous family, identifying a new ALPK3 mutation (c.3792G>A, p.W1264X) which undergoes nonsense-mediated decay in ex vivo and in vivo tissues. Ultra-structural analysis of cardiomyocytes derived from patient-specific and human ESC-derived stem cell lines lacking ALPK3 revealed disordered sarcomeres and intercalated discs. Multi-electrode array analysis and calcium imaging demonstrated an extended field potential duration and abnormal calcium handling in mutant contractile cultures.
CONCLUSIONS: This study validates the genetic evidence, suggesting that mutations in ALPK3 can cause familial cardiomyopathy and demonstrates loss of function as the underlying genetic mechanism. We show that ALPK3-deficient cardiomyocytes derived from pluripotent stem cell models recapitulate the ultrastructural and electrophysiological defects observed in vivo. Analysis of differentiated contractile cultures identified abnormal calcium handling as a potential feature of cardiomyocytes lacking ALPK3, providing functional insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying ALPK3-mediated cardiomyopathy.