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FASEB J. 2013 Aug;27(8):3395-407. doi: 10.1096/fj.13-227249. Epub 2013 May 13.

Carbon monoxide inhibition of Cav3.2 T-type Ca2+ channels reveals tonic modulation by thioredoxin.

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Leeds Institute of Genetics, Health, and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK..


T-type Ca(2+) channels play diverse roles in tissues such as sensory neurons, vascular smooth muscle, and cancers, where increased expression of the cytoprotective enzyme, heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is often found. Here, we report regulation of T-type Ca(2+) channels by carbon monoxide (CO) a HO-1 by-product. CO (applied as CORM-2) caused a concentration-dependent, poorly reversible inhibition of all T-type channel isoforms (Cav3.1-3.3, IC50 ∼3 μM) expressed in HEK293 cells, and native T-type channels in NG108-15 cells and primary rat sensory neurons. No recognized CO-sensitive signaling pathway could account for the CO inhibition of Cav3.2. Instead, CO sensitivity was mediated by an extracellular redox-sensitive site, which was also highly sensitive to thioredoxin (Trx). Trx depletion (using auranofin, 2-5 μM) reduced Cav3.2 currents and their CO sensitivity by >50% but increased sensitivity to dithiothreitol ∼3-fold. By contrast, Cav3.1 and Cav3.3 channels, and their sensitivity to CO, were unaffected in identical experiments. Our data propose a novel signaling pathway in which Trx acts as a tonic, endogenous regulator of Cav3.2 channels, while HO-1-derived CO disrupts this regulation, causing channel inhibition. CO modulation of T-type channels has widespread implications for diverse physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms, such as excitability, contractility, and proliferation.


gasotransmitter; heme oxygenase 1; patch clamp; redox modulation

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