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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2001 Mar;33(3):533-43.

Alternation of inwardly rectifying background K+ channel during development of rat fetal cardiomyocytes.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, S-1, W-17, Chuo-ku, Sapporo,060-8556, Japan.


The resting membrane potential of rat ventricular myocytes dramatically hyperpolarizes in the late phase of the fetal period. In order to investigate the mechanisms of this hyperpolarization, we examined the electrophysiological properties and molecular structure of the inwardly rectifying background K+ channels of rat fetal ventricular myocytes. In a patch-clamp experiment the whole-cell current of the inwardly rectifying background K+ channel increased 12-fold from between 12 and 18 days after impregnation. In the single channel recording, the large-conductance (35 pS) channels were mainly observed in the 18-day fetal ventricular myocytes. In the 12-day cells, the large-conductance channel was not observed although the low-conductance channels (11 and 16 pS) were infrequently observed. These data of single channel recordings suggested that channel proteins conducting the inwardly rectifying background K+ current were altered during the fetal development. Therefore, we compared the expression of Kir 2.1 mRNA and Kir 2.2 mRNA between 12 days and 18 days using the RT-PCR method, in order to investigate the possible molecular regulation which contributes to the electrophysiological changes. During the fetal period, the expression of Kir 2.2 mRNA increased tremendously (17 times), whereas the increase in the expression of Kir 2.1 mRNA (two times) was not so great. These results show that hyperpolarization in the late fetal period seems to be mainly due to the dramatic increase in expression of Kir 2.2 mRNA rather than expression of Kir 2.1 mRNA.

Copyright 2001 Academic Press.

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