Na+, K+-ATPase is a heterodimeric enzyme responsible for the active maintenance of sodium and potassium gradients across the plasma membrane (1). The sodium- and potassium-dependent adenosine triphosphatase (Na+,K(+)-ATPase) maintains the transmembrane Na+ gradient to which is coupled all active cellular transport systems (2). It is well accepted that inhibition of the Na,K-ATPase in the heart, through effects on the Na/Ca exchanger, raises the intracellular Ca2+ concentration and strengthens cardiac contraction. Assessing the phenotypes of mouse hearts with genetically reduced levels of Na,K-ATPase alpha 1 or alpha 2 isoforms clearly demonstrates different functional roles for these isoforms in vivo. Results definitively illustrate a specific role for the alpha 2 Na,K-ATPase isoform in Ca2+ signaling during cardiac contraction (3).
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