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Nature. 1994 Mar 17;368(6468):255-7.

Recombinant G-protein beta gamma-subunits activate the muscarinic-gated atrial potassium channel.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota 55905.


Acetylcholine activates inwardly rectifying potassium channels (IK.ACh) in the heart through muscarinic receptor binding and activation of pertussis-toxin-sensitive G proteins. Experiments showing that only the beta gamma-subunit (G beta gamma) activates IK.ACh (ref. 4) were challenged by reports that only the activated alpha-subunit (G alpha) was effective. Here we examine IK.ACh regulation using purified brain and recombinant G-protein subunits. Six recombinant G beta gamma-subunits activated IK.ACh with apparent half-maximal activation concentrations of 3-30 nM. Activation of IK.ACh by recombinant G alpha-GTP gamma S was observed, but this was probably due to release of GTP gamma S from the protein. Importantly, IK.ACh activity elicited by GTP gamma S was inhibited by purified brain and recombinant G alpha-GDP, suggesting that native G beta gamma plays a major role in this pathway. We conclude that G beta gamma is a primary regulator of IK.ACh activity.

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