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Circ Res. 1993 Dec;73(6):1061-76.

Sustained depolarization-induced outward current in human atrial myocytes. Evidence for a novel delayed rectifier K+ current similar to Kv1.5 cloned channel currents.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Montreal Heart Institute, Quebec, Canada.


Depolarization of human atrial myocytes activates a transient outward current that rapidly inactivates, leaving a sustained outward current after continued depolarization. To evaluate the ionic mechanism underlying this sustained current (Isus), we applied whole-cell voltage-clamp techniques to single myocytes isolated from right atrial specimens obtained from patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery. The magnitude of Isus was constant for up to 10 seconds at +30 mV and was unaffected by 40 mmol/L tetraethylammonium, 100 nmol/L dendrotoxin, 1 mmol/L Ba2+, 0.1 mumol/L atropine, or removal of Cl- in the superfusate. Isus could be distinguished from the 4-aminopyridine (4AP)-sensitive transient outward current (Ito1) by differences in voltage-dependent inactivation (1000-millisecond prepulse to -20 mV reduced Ito1 by 91.7 +/- 0.1% [mean +/- SEM], P < .001, versus 9.4 +/- 0.4% reduction of Isus) and 4AP sensitivity (IC50 for block of Ito1, 1.96 mmol/L; for Isus, 49 mumol/L). Isus activation had a voltage threshold near -30 mV, a half-activation voltage of -4.3 mV, and a slope factor of 8.0 mV. Isus was not inactivated by 1000-millisecond prepulses but was reduced by 16 +/- 8% (P < .05) at a holding potential of -20 mV relative to values at a holding potential of -80 mV. Isus activated very rapidly, with time constants (tau) at 25 degrees C ranging from 18.2 +/- 1.8 to 2.1 +/- 0.2 milliseconds at -10 to +50 mV, two orders of magnitude faster than previously described kinetics of the rapid component of the delayed rectifier K+ current. At 16 degrees C, Isus activation was greatly slowed (tau at +10 mV, 46.7 +/- 4.1 milliseconds; tau at 25 degrees C, 7.1 +/- 0.8 milliseconds; P < .01), and the envelope of tails test was satisfied. The reversal potential of Isus tail currents changed linearly with log [K+]o (slope, 55.3 +/- 2.9 mV per decade), and the fully activated current-voltage relation showed substantial outward rectification. Selective inhibition of Isus with 50 mumol/L 4AP increased human atrial action potential duration by 66 +/- 11% (P < .01). In conclusion, Isus in human atrial myocytes is due to a very rapidly activating delayed rectifier K+ current, which shows limited slow inactivation, is insensitive to tetraethylammonium, Ba2+, and dendrotoxin, and is highly sensitive to 4AP. These properties resemble the characteristics of channels encoded by the Kv1.5 group of cardiac cDNAs and may represent a physiologically significant manifestation of such channels in human atrium.

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