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J Exp Biol. 2003 Mar;206(Pt 6):959-65.

K(+) transport in Malpighian tubules of Tenebrio molitor L: is a K(ATP) channel involved?

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  • 1Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa.


The presence of ATP-regulated K(+) (K(ATP)) channels in Tenebrio molitor Malpighian tubules was investigated by examining the effect of glibenclamide on both fluid secretion and basolateral membrane potentials (V(bl)). Glibenclamide, a K(ATP) channel blocker, slowed fluid secretion of Tenebrio tubules. In low bath K(+) concentration (5 mmol l(-1)), glibenclamide either hyperpolarized or depolarized V(bl), resembling the effect seen with Ba(2+). Subsequent addition of 6 mmol l(-1) Ba(2+) caused a further hyper- or depolarization of V(bl). In control Ringer (50 mmol l(-1) KCl, 90 mmol l(-1) NaCl), glibenclamide had no visible effect on V(bl). The effect of ouabain was investigated in low bath [K(+)] in the presence of Ba(2+). V(bl) responded by a small but significant hyperpolarization from -51+/-4 mV to -56+/-4 mV (n=16, P<0.001) in response to 1 mmol l(-1) ouabain. Repeating the experiments in the presence of both glibenclamide and Ba(2+) resulted in a depolarization of V(bl) when ouabain was added. In low bath [K(+)] (high Na(+)), the Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase is expected to function at a high rate. In the presence of Ba(2+), replacing Na(+) by K(+) rapidly depolarized V(bl), but this was followed by a repolarization. Repeating the experiments in the presence of glibenclamide markedly reduced the depolarizing effect and abolished the repolarization, with a gradual decrease in the sensitivity of V(bl) to the surrounding [K(+)]. These results suggest the presence of K(ATP) channels in the basolateral membrane. Glibenclamide had no visible effect on V(bl) in high K(+) or in the absence of Ba(2+), indicating that other highly conductive K(+) channels may mask the effect on K(ATP) channels. This is the first demonstration of the presence of K(ATP) channels in an insect epithelium.

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