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Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1995 Feb-Mar;52(2-3):173-8.

Direct effects of fatty acids and other charged lipids on ion channel activity in smooth muscle cells.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester 01655-0127, USA.


A variety of fatty acids increase the activity of certain types of K+ channels. This effect is not dependent on the three enzymatic pathways that convert arachidonic acid to various bioactive oxygenated metabolites. One type of K+ channel in toad stomach smooth muscle cell membranes in activated by fatty acids and other single chain lipids which possess both a negatively charged head group and a sufficiently hydrophobic acyl chain. Neutral lipids have no effect on K+ channel activity, while positively charged lipids with a sufficiently hydrophobic acyl chain suppress channel activity. Acyl Coenzyme A's, which do not flip across the bilayer, act only from the cytosolic surface of the membrane, suggesting that the binding site for channel activation is also located there. This fatty acid-activated channel is also activated by membrane stretch. Moreover, this mechanical response is either mediated or modulated by fatty acids. Thus, fatty acids and other charged single chain lipids may comprise another class of first or second messenger molecules that target ion channels.

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