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Pflugers Arch. 2003 Mar;445(6):674-82. Epub 2003 Jan 18.

Cholesterol modifies the gating of Kv1.3 in human T lymphocytes.

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  • 1Cell Biophysics Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Department of Biophysics and Cell Biology, University of Debrecen, 4012 Hungary.


The Kv1.3 potassium channel that belongs to the Shaker family of voltage-gated K(+) channels plays a crucial role in the mitogenic response of T cells. Because it spans the cell membrane its function can be influenced by lipid-protein interactions. In order to study the effect of lipid-protein interactions on the functioning of Kv1.3 we manipulated the membrane cholesterol content in T cells mimicking various physiological conditions by means of the oligosaccharide methyl-beta-cyclodextrin (MbetaCD) and its cholesterol-saturated complex (MbetaCD/C). Fluorescence polarization anisotropy and peak current density were used to monitor the efficiency of cholesterol removal (MbetaCD) and loading (MbetaCD/C). Using whole-cell patch-clamp technique we determined the kinetic and steady-state parameters of activation and inactivation of the Kv1.3 currents under different treatment conditions. Upon elevation of cholesterol content by 1 or 1.5 mg/ml MbetaCD/C the rates of both activation and inactivation were slowed. Moreover, the increased cholesterol level in the membrane resulted in a biphasic activation curve. Cholesterol depletion with MbetaCD (0.95 and 1.425 mg/ml) caused no significant changes in the gating characteristics of Kv1.3. The equilibrium between the open and the closed states of the channels was affected by increased cholesterol content, but at the same time steady-state inactivation was unchanged. We argue that manipulation of membrane cholesterol changed both the kinetic properties of Kv1.3 and steady-state parameters of activation by modifying lipid-protein interactions.

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