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J Physiol. 2009 Apr 15;587(Pt 8):1649-56. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2008.165126. Epub 2009 Feb 23.

A cytosolic factor that inhibits KATP channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes by impairing Mg-nucleotide activation by SUR1.

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Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PT, UK.


ATP-sensitive K(+) (K(ATP)) channels couple cell metabolism to cell electrical activity. Wild-type (Kir6.2/SUR1) K(ATP) channels heterologously expressed in Xenopus oocytes give rise to very small inward currents in cell-attached patches. A large increase in the current is observed on patch excision into zero ATP solution. This is presumably due to loss of intracellular ATP leading to unblock of K(ATP) channels. In contrast, channels containing Kir6.2 mutations associated with reduced ATP-sensitivity display non-zero cell-attached currents. Unexpectedly, these cell-attached currents are significantly smaller (by approximately 40%) than those observed when excised patches are exposed to physiological ATP concentrations (1-10 mm). Cramming the patch back into the oocyte cytoplasm restores mutant K(ATP) current amplitude to that measured in the cell-attached mode. This implies that the magnitude of the cell-attached current is regulated not only by intracellular ATP but also by another cytoplasmic factor/s. This factor seems to require the nucleotide-binding domains of SUR1 to be effective. Thus a mutant Kir6.2 (Kir6.2DeltaC-I296L) expressed in the absence of SUR1 exhibited currents of similar magnitude in cell-attached patches as in inside-out patches exposed to 10 mm MgATP. Similar results were found when Kir6.2-I296L was coexpressed with an SUR1 mutant that is insensitive to MgADP or MgATP activation. This suggests the oocyte contains a cytoplasmic factor that reduces nucleotide binding/hydrolysis at the NBDs of SUR1. In conclusion, our results reveal a novel regulatory mechanism for the K(ATP) channel. This was not evident for wild-type channels because of their high sensitivity to block by ATP.

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