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J Biol Chem. 2004 Feb 20;279(8):6893-904. Epub 2003 Nov 24.

SK3-1C, a dominant-negative suppressor of SKCa and IKCa channels.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California 92697, USA.


Small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels, products of the SK1-SK3 genes, regulate membrane excitability both within and outside the nervous system. We report the characterization of a SK3 variant (SK3-1C) that differs from SK3 by utilizing an alternative first exon (exon 1C) in place of exon 1A used by SK3, but is otherwise identical to SK3. Quantitative RT-PCR detected abundant expression of SK3-1C transcripts in human lymphoid tissues, skeletal muscle, trachea, and salivary gland but not the nervous system. SK3-1C did not produce functional channels when expressed alone in mammalian cells, but suppressed SK1, SK2, SK3, and IKCa1 channels, but not BKCa or KV channels. Confocal microscopy revealed that SK3-1C sequestered SK3 protein intracellularly. Dominant-inhibitory activity of SK3-1C was not due to a nonspecific calmodulin sponge effect since overexpression of calmodulin did not reverse SK3-1C-mediated intracellular trapping of SK3 protein, and calmodulin-Ca2+-dependent inactivation of CaV channels was not affected by SK3-1C overexpression. Deletion analysis identified a dominant-inhibitory segment in the SK3-1C C terminus that resembles tetramerization-coiled-coiled domains reported to enhance tetramer stability and selectivity of multimerization of many K+ channels. SK3-1C may therefore suppress calmodulin-gated SKCa/IKCa channels by trapping these channel proteins intracellularly via subunit interactions mediated by the dominant-inhibitory segment and thereby reduce functional channel expression on the cell surface. Such family-wide dominant-negative suppression by SK3-1C provides a powerful mechanism to titrate membrane excitability and is a useful approach to define the functional in vivo role of these channels in diverse tissues by their targeted silencing.

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