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J Biol Chem. 2011 Aug 12;286(32):27947-58. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.226738. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

Sig1R protein regulates hERG channel expression through a post-translational mechanism in leukemic cells.

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CNRS, UMR 6543, Nice 06108 Cedex 2, France.


Sig1R (Sigma-1receptor) is a 25-kDa protein structurally unrelated to other mammalian proteins. Sig1R is present in brain, liver, and heart and is overexpressed in cancer cells. Studies using exogenous sigma ligands have shown that Sig1R interacts with a variety of ion channels, but its intrinsic function and mechanism of action remain unclear. The human ether-à-gogo related gene (hERG) encodes a cardiac channel that is also abnormally expressed in many primary human cancers, potentiating tumor progression through the modulation of extracellular matrix adhesive interactions. We show herein that sigma ligands inhibit hERG current density and cell adhesion to fibronectin in K562 myeloid leukemia cells. Heterologous expression in Xenopus oocytes demonstrates that Sig1R potentiates hERG current by stimulating channel subunit biosynthesis. Silencing Sig1R in leukemic K562 cells depresses hERG current density and cell adhesion to fibronectin by reducing hERG membrane expression. In K562 cells, Sig1R silencing does not modify hERG mRNA contents but reduces hERG mature form densities. In HEK cells expressing hERG and Sig1R, both proteins co-immunoprecipitate, demonstrating a physical association. Finally, Sig1R expression enhances both channel protein maturation and stability. Altogether, these results demonstrate for the first time that Sig1R controls ion channel expression through the regulation of subunit trafficking activity.

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