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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2007 May;292(5):L1304-12. Epub 2007 Feb 2.

A Ba2+-resistant, acid-sensitive K+ conductance in Na+-absorbing H441 human airway epithelial cells.

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  • 1Lung Membrane Transport Group, Division of Maternal and Child Health Sciences, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland.


By analysis of whole cell membrane currents in Na(+)-absorbing H441 human airway epithelial cells, we have identified a K(+) conductance (G(K)) resistant to Ba(2+) but sensitive to bupivacaine or extracellular acidification. In polarized H441 monolayers, we have demonstrated that bupivacaine, lidocaine, and quinidine inhibit basolateral membrane K(+) current (I(Bl)) whereas Ba(2+) has only a weak inhibitory effect. I(Bl) was also inhibited by basolateral acidification, and, although subsequent addition of bupivacaine caused a further fall in I(Bl), acidification had no effect after bupivacaine, demonstrating that cells grown under these conditions express at least two different bupivacaine-sensitive K(+) channels, only one of which is acid sensitive. Basolateral acidification also inhibited short-circuit current (I(SC)), and basolateral bupivacaine, lidocaine, quinidine, and Ba(2+) inhibited I(SC) at concentrations similar to those needed to inhibit I(Bl), suggesting that the K(+) channels underlying I(Bl) are part of the absorptive mechanism. Analyses using RT-PCR showed that mRNA encoding several two-pore domain K(+) (K2P) channels was detected in cells grown under standard conditions (TWIK-1, TREK-1, TASK-2, TWIK-2, KCNK-7, TASK-3, TREK-2, THIK-1, and TALK-2). We therefore suggest that K2P channels underlie G(K) in unstimulated cells and so maintain the driving force for Na(+) absorption. Since this ion transport process is vital to lung function, K2P channels thus play an important but previously undocumented role in pulmonary physiology.

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