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J Biol Chem. 1997 Feb 28;272(9):5388-95.

Anionic phospholipids activate ATP-sensitive potassium channels.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53792, USA.


The ATP-sensitive potassium channel (KATP) controls insulin release in pancreatic beta-cells and also modulates important functions in other cell types. In this study we report that anionic phospholipids activated KATP in pancreatic beta-cells, cardiac myocytes, skeletal muscle cells, and a cloned KATP composed of two subunits (SUR/Kir6. 2) stably expressed in a mammalian cell line. The effectiveness was proportional to the number of negative charges on the head group of the anionic phospholipid. Screening negative charges with polyvalent cations antagonized the effect. Enzymatic treatment with phospholipases that reduced charge on the lipids also reduced or eliminated the effect. These results suggest that intact phospholipids with negative charges are the critical requirement for activation of KATP, in distinction from the usual cell signaling pathway through phospholipids that requires cleavage. Mutations of two positively charged amino acid residues at the C terminus of Kir6. 2 accelerated loss of channel activity and reduced the activating effects of phospholipids, suggesting involvement of this region in the activation. Metabolism of anionic phospholipids in plasmalemmal membrane may be a novel and general mechanism for regulation of KATP and perhaps other ion channels in the family of inward rectifiers.

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