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PLoS One. 2009;4(4):e5143. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005143. Epub 2009 Apr 2.

Functional interactions between KCNE1 C-terminus and the KCNQ1 channel.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA.


The KCNE1 gene product (minK protein) associates with the cardiac KvLQT1 potassium channel (encoded by KCNQ1) to create the cardiac slowly activating delayed rectifier, I(Ks). Mutations throughout both genes are linked to the hereditary cardiac arrhythmias in the Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). KCNE1 exerts its specific regulation of KCNQ1 activation via interactions between membrane-spanning segments of the two proteins. Less detailed attention has been focused on the role of the KCNE1 C-terminus in regulating channel behavior. We analyzed the effects of an LQT5 point mutation (D76N) and the truncation of the entire C-terminus (Delta70) on channel regulation, assembly and interaction. Both mutations significantly shifted voltage dependence of activation in the depolarizing direction and decreased I(Ks) current density. They also accelerated rates of channel deactivation but notably, did not affect activation kinetics. Truncation of the C-terminus reduced the apparent affinity of KCNE1 for KCNQ1, resulting in impaired channel formation and presentation of KCNQ1/KCNE1 complexes to the surface. Complete saturation of KCNQ1 channels with KCNE1-Delta70 could be achieved by relative over-expression of the KCNE subunit. Rate-dependent facilitation of K(+) conductance, a key property of I(Ks) that enables action potential shortening at higher heart rates, was defective for both KCNE1 C-terminal mutations, and may contribute to the clinical phenotype of arrhythmias triggered by heart rate elevations during exercise in LQTS mutations. These results support several roles for KCNE1 C-terminus interaction with KCNQ1: regulation of channel assembly, open-state destabilization, and kinetics of channel deactivation.

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