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Mol Biol Rep. 2014 Jan;41(1):297-307.

Differences in the expression pattern of HCN isoforms among mammalian tissues: sources and implications.


Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels play a critical role in a broad range of cell types, but the expression of the various HCN isoforms is still poorly understood. In the present study we have compared the expression of HCN isoforms in rat excitable and non-excitable tissues at both the mRNA and protein levels. Real-time PCR and Western blot analysis revealed distinct expression patterns of the four HCN isoforms in brain, heart, pituitary and kidney, with inconsistent mRNA-protein expression correlation. The HCN2 was the most abundant mRNA transcript (95.6, 78.0 and 59.0 % in kidney heart and pituitary, respectively) except in the brain (42.0 %) whereas HCN4 was the most abundant protein isoform. Our results suggest that HCN channels are mostly produced by the HCN4 isoform in heart, which contrasts with the sharp differences in the isoform stoichiometry in pituitary (15 HCN4:2 HCN2:1 HCN1:1 HCN3), kidney (24 HCN4:2 HCN3:1 HCN2:1 HCN1) and brain (3 HCN4:2 HCN2:1 HCN1:1 HCN3). Moreover, deviations of the electrophoretic molecular weight (MW) of the HCN isoforms relative to the theoretical MW were observed, suggesting that N-glycosylation and enzymatic proteolysis influences HCN channel surface expression. We hypothesize that selective cleavage of HCN channels by membrane bound metalloendopeptidases could account for the multiplicity of properties of native HCN channels in different tissues.

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