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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Nov 14;103(46):17548-53. Epub 2006 Nov 3.

SK channels mediate NADPH oxidase-independent reactive oxygen species production and apoptosis in granulocytes.

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Graduate Group in Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0725, USA.


Neutrophils are immune cells that bind to, engulf, and destroy bacterial and fungal pathogens in infected tissue, and their clearance by apoptosis is essential for the resolution of inflammation. Killing involves both oxidative and nonoxidative processes, the oxidative pathway requiring electrogenic production of superoxide by the membrane-bound NADPH oxidase complex. A variety of stimuli, from bacterial chemotactic peptides to complement- or IgG-opsonized microbes, can induce the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by neutrophils, presumably by means of NADPH oxidase. We report here that 1-ethyl-2-benzimidazolinone (1-EBIO), an activator of Ca2+-activated potassium channels of small conductance (SK) and intermediate conductance (IK), causes production of superoxide and hydrogen peroxide by neutrophils and granulocyte-differentiated PLB-985 cells. This response can be partially inhibited by the SK blocker apamin, which inhibits a Ca2+-activated K+ current in these cells. Analysis of RNA transcripts indicates that channels encoded by the SK3 gene carry this current. The effects of 1-EBIO and apamin are independent of the NADPH oxidase pathway, as demonstrated by using a PLB-985 cell line lacking the gp91phox subunit. Rather, 1-EBIO and apamin modulate mitochondrial ROS production. Consistent with the enhanced ROS production and K+ efflux mediated by 1-EBIO, we found that this SK opener increased apoptosis of PLB-985 cells. Together, these findings suggest a previously uncharacterized mechanism for the regulation of neutrophil ROS production and programmed cell death.

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