The rhythmical nature of the cardiovascular system constantly generates dynamic mechanical forces. At the center of this system is the heart which must detect these changes and adjust its performance accordingly. Mechano-electric feedback provides a rapid mechanism for detecting even subtle changes in the mechanical environment and transducing these signals into electrical responses which can adjust a variety of cardiac parameters such as heart rate and contractility. However, pathological conditions can disrupt this intricate mechanosensory system and manifest as potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Mechanosensitive ion channels are thought to be the main proponents of mechano-electric feedback as they provide a rapid response to mechanical stimulation and can directly affect cardiac electrical activity. Here we demonstrate that the mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo1 is expressed in zebrafish cardiomyocytes. Furthermore, chemically prolonging Piezo1 activation in zebrafish results in cardiac arrhythmias indicating that this ion channel plays an important role in mechano-electric feedback. This also raises the possibility that Piezo1 gain of function mutations could be linked to heritable cardiac arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation in humans.
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