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Sci Rep. 2015 Aug 5;5:12813. doi: 10.1038/srep12813.

Auxiliary KCNE subunits modulate both homotetrameric Kv2.1 and heterotetrameric Kv2.1/Kv6.4 channels.

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Danish National Research Foundation Centre for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Department for Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Laboratory for Molecular Biophysics, Physiology and Pharmacology, Department for Biomedical Sciences, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.


The diversity of the voltage-gated K(+) (Kv) channel subfamily Kv2 is increased by interactions with auxiliary β-subunits and by assembly with members of the modulatory so-called silent Kv subfamilies (Kv5-Kv6 and Kv8-Kv9). However, it has not yet been investigated whether these two types of modulating subunits can associate within and modify a single channel complex simultaneously. Here, we demonstrate that the transmembrane β-subunit KCNE5 modifies the Kv2.1/Kv6.4 current extensively, whereas KCNE2 and KCNE4 only exert minor effects. Co-expression of KCNE5 with Kv2.1 and Kv6.4 did not alter the Kv2.1/Kv6.4 current density but modulated the biophysical properties significantly; KCNE5 accelerated the activation, slowed the deactivation and steepened the slope of the voltage-dependence of the Kv2.1/Kv6.4 inactivation by accelerating recovery of the closed-state inactivation. In contrast, KCNE5 reduced the current density ~2-fold without affecting the biophysical properties of Kv2.1 homotetramers. Co-localization of Kv2.1, Kv6.4 and KCNE5 was demonstrated with immunocytochemistry and formation of Kv2.1/Kv6.4/KCNE5 and Kv2.1/KCNE5 complexes was confirmed by Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer experiments performed in HEK293 cells. These results suggest that a triple complex consisting of Kv2.1, Kv6.4 and KCNE5 subunits can be formed. In vivo, formation of such tripartite Kv2.1/Kv6.4/KCNE5 channel complexes might contribute to tissue-specific fine-tuning of excitability.

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