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J Membr Biol. 1997 Sep 15;159(2):149-59.

K+ channel subunit isoforms with divergent carboxy-terminal sequences carry distinct membrane targeting signals.

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Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, New York University Medical Center, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Kv3 K+ channel genes encode multiple products by alternative splicing of 3' ends resulting in the expression of K+ channel proteins that differ only in their C-termini. This divergence does not affect the electrophysiological properties of the channels expressed by these proteins. A similar alternative splicing with unknown function is seen in K+ channel genes of other families. We have investigated the possibility that the alternative splicing serves to generate channel subunits with different membrane targeting signals by examining the sorting behavior of three alternatively-spliced Kv3.2 isoforms when expressed in polarized MDCK cells. Two Kv3.2 proteins, Kv3.2b and Kv3.2c were expressed predominantly in the apical membrane, while Kv3.2a was localized mainly to the basolateral side (thought to be equivalent to the axonal and somatodendritic compartments in neurons, respectively). The Kv3.2 mRNA transcripts used in these studies are identical except for their 3' sequence, encoding the extreme C-terminal domain of the protein and the 3'UTR of the mRNA. However, the proteins achieve the same localizations in MDCK cells when expressed from constructs containing or lacking the 3'UTR, indicating that the differential localization is due to targeting signals present in the C' terminal domain of the protein. These results suggest that the alternative splicing of Kv3 genes is involved in channel localization. Since the precise localization of any given ion channel on the neuronal surface has significant functional implications, the results shown here suggest an important function for the alternative splicing of 3' ends seen in many K+ channel genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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