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J Physiol. 2001 Dec 15;537(Pt 3):979-92.

T-tubule localization of the inward-rectifier K(+) channel in mouse ventricular myocytes: a role in K(+) accumulation.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 4N1, Canada.


1. The properties of the slow inward 'tail currents' (I(tail)) that followed depolarizing steps in voltage-clamped, isolated mouse ventricular myocytes were examined. Depolarizing steps that produced large outward K(+) currents in these myocytes were followed by a slowly decaying inward I(tail) on repolarization to the holding potential. These currents were produced only by depolarizations: inwardly rectifying K(+) currents, I(K1), produced by steps to potentials negative to the holding potential, were not followed by I(tail). 2. For depolarizations of equal duration, the magnitude of I(tail) increased as the magnitude of outward current at the end of the depolarizing step increased. The apparent reversal potential of I(tail) was dependent upon the duration of the depolarizing step, and the reversal potential shifted to more depolarized potentials as the duration of the depolarization was increased. 3. Removal of external Na(+) and Ca(2+) had no significant effect on the magnitude or time course of I(tail). BaCl(2) (0.25 mM), which had no effect on the magnitude of outward currents, abolished I(tail) and I(K1) simultaneously. 4. Accordingly, I(tail) in mouse ventricular myocytes probably results from K(+) accumulation in a restricted extracellular space such as the transverse tubule system (t-tubules). The efflux of K(+) into the t-tubules during outward currents produced by depolarization shifts the K(+) Nernst potential (E(K)) from its 'resting' value (close to -80 mV) to more depolarized potentials. This suggests that I(tail) is produced by I(K1) in the t-tubules and is inward because of the transiently elevated K(+) concentration and depolarized value of E(K) in the t-tubules. 5. Additional evidence for the localization of I(K1) channels in the t-tubules was provided by confocal microscopy using a specific antibody against Kir2.1 in mouse ventricular myocytes.

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