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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2019 Feb 1;316(2):C154-C161. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00335.2018. Epub 2018 Nov 14.

Genetic ablation or pharmacological inhibition of Kv1.1 potassium channel subunits impairs atrial repolarization in mice.

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Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center , Shreveport, Louisiana.


Voltage-gated Kv1.1 potassium channel α-subunits, encoded by the Kcna1 gene, have traditionally been regarded as neural-specific with no expression or function in the heart. However, recent data revealed that Kv1.1 subunits are expressed in atria where they may have an overlooked role in controlling repolarization and arrhythmia susceptibility independent of the nervous system. To explore this concept in more detail and to identify functional and molecular effects of Kv1.1 channel impairment in the heart, atrial cardiomyocyte patch-clamp electrophysiology and gene expression analyses were performed using Kcna1 knockout ( Kcna1-/-) mice. Specifically, we hypothesized that Kv1.1 subunits contribute to outward repolarizing K+ currents in mouse atria and that their absence prolongs cardiac action potentials. In voltage-clamp experiments, dendrotoxin-K (DTX-K), a Kv1.1-specific inhibitor, significantly reduced peak outward K+ currents in wild-type (WT) atrial cells but not Kcna1-/- cells, demonstrating an important contribution by Kv1.1-containing channels to mouse atrial repolarizing currents. In current-clamp recordings, Kcna1-/- atrial myocytes exhibited significant action potential prolongation which was exacerbated in right atria, effects that were partially recapitulated in WT cells by application of DTX-K. Quantitative RT-PCR measurements showed mRNA expression remodeling in Kcna1-/- atria for several ion channel genes that contribute to the atrial action potential including the Kcna5, Kcnh2, and Kcnj2 potassium channel genes and the Scn5a sodium channel gene. This study demonstrates a previously undescribed heart-intrinsic role for Kv1.1 subunits in mediating atrial repolarization, thereby adding a new member to the already diverse collection of known K+ channels in the heart.


Kv1.1; action potential; atria; channel remodeling; dendrotoxin-K

[Available on 2020-02-01]

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