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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 27;9(1):e87457. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087457. eCollection 2014.

Up-regulation of hERG K⁺ channels by B-RAF.

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Department of Physiology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.
Department of Physiology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany ; Department of Immunology, Institute of Experimental Medicine, St. Petersburg, Russia.


Human ether-a-go-go related-gene K⁺ channels (hERG) participate in the regulation of tumor cell proliferation and apoptosis. HERG channel activity is up-regulated by growth factors. Kinases sensitive to growth factor signaling include the serine/threonine protein kinase B-RAF. The present study thus explored whether B-RAF influences hERG channel expression and activity. To this end, hERG channels were expressed in Xenopus oocytes with or without wild-type B-RAF, hERG channel activity was determined utilizing dual-electrode voltage clamp and hERG protein abundance in the cell membrane was analyzed utilizing confocal microscopy as well as chemiluminescence. Moreover, in rhabdomyosarcoma RD cells the effect of B-RAF inhibitor PLX-4720 on hERG-mediated current was quantified by whole-cell patch clamp and hERG cell surface protein abundance by utilizing biotinylation of cell surface proteins as well as flow cytometry. As a result, co-expression of wild-type B-RAF in hERG-expressing Xenopus oocytes significantly increased hERG channel activity and hERG channel protein abundance in the cell membrane. Treatment for 24 hours of B-RAF and hERG-expressing Xenopus oocytes with B-RAF inhibitor PLX-4720 (10 µM) significantly decreased hERG-mediated current and hERG cell surface expression. Similarly, in rhabdomyosarcoma RD cells, treatment for 24 hours with B-RAF inhibitor PLX-4720 significantly decreased hERG cell membrane protein abundance and hERG-mediated current. In conclusion, B-RAF is a powerful regulator of hERG channel activity and cell surface hERG protein abundance.

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