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1.  Two distinct effects of PIP2 underlie auxiliary subunit-dependent modulation of Slo1 BK channels 
The Journal of General Physiology  2015;145(4):331-343.
The effects of PIP2 on Slo1 BK channels depend on subunit composition.
Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) plays a critical role in modulating the function of numerous ion channels, including large-conductance Ca2+- and voltage-dependent K+ (BK, Slo1) channels. Slo1 BK channel complexes include four pore-forming Slo1 (α) subunits as well as various regulatory auxiliary subunits (β and γ) that are expressed in different tissues. We examined the molecular and biophysical mechanisms underlying the effects of brain-derived PIP2 on human Slo1 BK channel complexes with different subunit compositions that were heterologously expressed in human embryonic kidney cells. PIP2 inhibited macroscopic currents through Slo1 channels without auxiliary subunits and through Slo1 + γ1 complexes. In contrast, PIP2 markedly increased macroscopic currents through Slo1 + β1 and Slo1 + β4 channel complexes and failed to alter macroscopic currents through Slo1 + β2 and Slo1 + β2 Δ2–19 channel complexes. Results obtained at various membrane potentials and divalent cation concentrations suggest that PIP2 promotes opening of the ion conduction gate in all channel types, regardless of the specific subunit composition. However, in the absence of β subunits positioned near the voltage-sensor domains (VSDs), as in Slo1 and probably Slo1 + γ1, PIP2 augments the negative surface charge on the cytoplasmic side of the membrane, thereby shifting the voltage dependence of VSD-mediated activation in the positive direction. When β1 or β4 subunits occupy the space surrounding the VSDs, only the stimulatory effect of PIP2 is evident. The subunit compositions of native Slo1 BK channels differ in various cell types; thus, PIP2 may exert distinct tissue- and divalent cation–dependent modulatory influences.
PMCID: PMC4380209  PMID: 25825171
2.  Oxidative Modulation of Voltage-Gated Potassium Channels 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2014;21(6):933-952.
Significance: Voltage-gated K+ channels are a large family of K+-selective ion channel protein complexes that open on membrane depolarization. These K+ channels are expressed in diverse tissues and their function is vital for numerous physiological processes, in particular of neurons and muscle cells. Potentially reversible oxidative regulation of voltage-gated K+ channels by reactive species such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) represents a contributing mechanism of normal cellular plasticity and may play important roles in diverse pathologies including neurodegenerative diseases. Recent Advances: Studies using various protocols of oxidative modification, site-directed mutagenesis, and structural and kinetic modeling provide a broader phenomenology and emerging mechanistic insights. Critical Issues: Physicochemical mechanisms of the functional consequences of oxidative modifications of voltage-gated K+ channels are only beginning to be revealed. In vivo documentation of oxidative modifications of specific amino-acid residues of various voltage-gated K+ channel proteins, including the target specificity issue, is largely absent. Future Directions: High-resolution chemical and proteomic analysis of ion channel proteins with respect to oxidative modification combined with ongoing studies on channel structure and function will provide a better understanding of how the function of voltage-gated K+ channels is tuned by ROS and the corresponding reducing enzymes to meet cellular needs. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 21, 933–952.
PMCID: PMC4116129  PMID: 24040918
3.  Sodium channels as gateable non-photonic sensors for membrane-delimited reactive species 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2014;1838(5):1412-1419.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI) play crucial roles in physiological processes. While excessive ROS damages cells, small fluctuations in ROS levels represent physiological signals important for vital functions. Despite the physiological importance of ROS, many fundamental questions remain unanswered, such as which types of ROS occur in cells, how they distribute inside cells, and how long they remain in an active form. The current study presents a ratiometric sensor of intracellular ROS levels based on genetically engineered voltage-gated sodium channels (roNaV). roNaV can be used for detecting oxidative modification that occurs near the plasma membrane with a sensitivity similar to existing fluorescence-based ROS sensors. Moreover, roNaV has several advantages over traditional sensors because it does not need excitation light for sensing, and thus, can be used to detect phototoxic cellular modifications. In addition, the ROS dynamic range of roNaV is easily manipulated in real time by means of the endogenous channel inactivation mechanism. Measurements on ROS liberated from intracellular Lucifer Yellow and genetically encoded KillerRed has revealed an assessment of ROS lifetime in individual mammalian cells. Flashlight-induced ROS concentration decayed with two major time constants of about 10 and 1000 ms.
PMCID: PMC4083234  PMID: 24513256
ROS sensor; oxidation; sodium channel; channel inactivation; channel gating
4.  Carbon monoxide – physiology, detection and controlled release 
Carbon monoxide (CO) is increasingly recognized as a cell-signalling molecule akin to nitric oxide (NO). CO has attracted particular attention as a potential therapeutic agent because of its reported anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory and cell-protective effects. We discuss recent progress in identifying new effector systems and elucidating the mechanisms of action of CO on, e.g., ion channels, as well as the design of novel methods to monitor CO in cellular environments. We also report on recent developments in the area of CO-releasing molecules (CORMs) and materials for controlled CO application. Novel triggers for CO release, metal carbonyls and degradation mechanisms of CORMs, are highlighted. In addition, potential formulations of CORMs for targeted CO release are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4072318  PMID: 24556640
carbon monoxide; ion channels; haem; CO sensing; CO-releasing molecules
5.  K+ channel gating: C-type inactivation is enhanced by calcium or lanthanum outside 
The Journal of General Physiology  2014;144(3):221-230.
C-type inactivation in K+ channels is enhanced by external Ca2+ or La3+, consistent with a mechanism which involves dilation of the outer pore.
Many voltage-gated K+ channels exhibit C-type inactivation. This typically slow process has been hypothesized to result from dilation of the outer-most ring of the carbonyls in the selectivity filter, destroying this ring’s ability to bind K+ with high affinity. We report here strong enhancement of C-type inactivation upon extracellular addition of 10–40 mM Ca2+ or 5–50 µM La3+. These multivalent cations mildly increase the rate of C-type inactivation during depolarization and markedly promote inactivation and/or suppress recovery when membrane voltage (Vm) is at resting levels (−80 to −100 mV). At −80 mV with 40 mM Ca2+ and 0 mM K+ externally, ShBΔN channels with the mutation T449A inactivate almost completely within 2 min or less with no pulsing. This behavior is observed only in those mutants that show C-type inactivation on depolarization and is distinct from the effects of Ca2+ and La3+ on activation (opening and closing of the Vm-controlled gate), i.e., slower activation of K+ channels and a positive shift of the mid-voltage of activation. The Ca2+/La3+ effects on C-type inactivation are antagonized by extracellular K+ in the low millimolar range. This, together with the known ability of Ca2+ and La3+ to block inward current through K+ channels at negative voltage, strongly suggests that Ca2+/La3+ acts at the outer mouth of the selectivity filter. We propose that at −80 mV, Ca2+ or La3+ ions compete effectively with K+ at the channel’s outer mouth and prevent K+ from stabilizing the filter’s outer carbonyl ring.
PMCID: PMC4144669  PMID: 25156116
6.  A population-based study of KCNH7 p.Arg394His and bipolar spectrum disorder 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(23):6395-6406.
We conducted blinded psychiatric assessments of 26 Amish subjects (52 ± 11 years) from four families with prevalent bipolar spectrum disorder, identified 10 potentially pathogenic alleles by exome sequencing, tested association of these alleles with clinical diagnoses in the larger Amish Study of Major Affective Disorder (ASMAD) cohort, and studied mutant potassium channels in neurons. Fourteen of 26 Amish had bipolar spectrum disorder. The only candidate allele shared among them was rs78247304, a non-synonymous variant of KCNH7 (c.1181G>A, p.Arg394His). KCNH7 c.1181G>A and nine other potentially pathogenic variants were subsequently tested within the ASMAD cohort, which consisted of 340 subjects grouped into controls subjects and affected subjects from overlapping clinical categories (bipolar 1 disorder, bipolar spectrum disorder and any major affective disorder). KCNH7 c.1181G>A had the highest enrichment among individuals with bipolar spectrum disorder (χ2 = 7.3) and the strongest family-based association with bipolar 1 (P = 0.021), bipolar spectrum (P = 0.031) and any major affective disorder (P = 0.016). In vitro, the p.Arg394His substitution allowed normal expression, trafficking, assembly and localization of HERG3/Kv11.3 channels, but altered the steady-state voltage dependence and kinetics of activation in neuronal cells. Although our genome-wide statistical results do not alone prove association, cumulative evidence from multiple independent sources (parallel genome-wide study cohorts, pharmacological studies of HERG-type potassium channels, electrophysiological data) implicates neuronal HERG3/Kv11.3 potassium channels in the pathophysiology of bipolar spectrum disorder. Such a finding, if corroborated by future studies, has implications for mental health services among the Amish, as well as development of drugs that specifically target HERG3/Kv11.3.
PMCID: PMC4222358  PMID: 24986916
7.  A point mutation in the human Slo1 channel that impairs its sensitivity to omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid 
The Journal of General Physiology  2013;142(5):507-522.
Long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) at nanomolar concentrations reversibly activate human large-conductance Ca2+- and voltage-gated K+ (Slo1 BK) channels containing auxiliary β1 or β4 subunits in cell-free patches. Here we examined the action of DHA on the Slo1 channel without any auxiliary subunit and sought to elucidate the biophysical mechanism and the molecular determinants of the DHA sensitivity. Measurements of ionic currents through human Slo1 (hSlo1) channels reveal that the stimulatory effect of DHA does not require activation of the voltage or Ca2+ sensors. Unlike gating of the hSlo1 channel, that of the Drosophila melanogaster Slo1 (dSlo1) channel is unaltered by DHA. Our mutagenesis study based on the differential responses of human and dSlo1 channels to DHA pinpoints that Y318 near the cytoplasmic end of S6 in the hSlo1 channel is a critical determinant of the stimulatory action of DHA. The mutation Y318S in hSlo1, which replaces Y with S as found in dSlo1, greatly diminishes the channel’s response to DHA with a 22-carbon chain whether β1 or β4 is absent or present. However, the responses to α-linolenic acid, an omegea-3 fatty acid with an 18-carbon chain, and to arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid with a 20-carbon chain, remain unaffected by the mutation. Y318 in the S6 segment of hSlo1 is thus an important determinant of the electrophysiological response of the channel to DHA. Furthermore, the mutation Y318S may prove to be useful in dissecting out the complex lipid-mediated modulation of Slo1 BK channels.
PMCID: PMC3813383  PMID: 24127525
8.  C-027 Inhibits IgE-mediated passive sensitization bronchoconstriction and acts as a histamine and serotonin antagonist in human airways 
Atopic asthma is poorly controlled by current therapies. Newer therapies and novel antihistamines are, therefore, required to treat patients whose atopic asthma is not controlled. For the first time, C-027 is shown to antagonize histamine, IgE-mediated and serotonin-induced contraction in human airways and vessels. Human precision-cut lung slices (PCLS, 250 µm thick), containing an airway or blood vessel, were pretreated with either C-027 (2 hours) or with vehicle alone and were contracted with histamine or serotonin. Known antihistamine was used as a comparator in antihistamine studies. Also, human airways were contracted via IgE passive sensitization in the presence or absence of C-027 or fexofenadine. Affinity of C-027 toward human G-protein coupled receptors was also determined, as well as the drug's biodistribution in murine model. C-027 was shown to have the highest affinity toward human histamine and serotonin receptors. Subsequently, C-027 was shown to antagonize histamine- and serotonin-induced airway and vascular smooth muscle contraction, respectively, and histamine-released bronchocontraction mediated by IgE passive sensitization in human small airways. C-027 also inhibited histamine-mediated single-cell calcium ion release. Low levels of C-027 were found in murine brain tissue. Collectively, these data suggest that C-027 markedly inhibits IgE-induced bronchoconstriction and antagonizes histamine and serotonin-contraction with little biodistribution in the brain. The compound may offer a future therapy for allergen-induced airway hyperresponsiveness in patients with asthma.
PMCID: PMC3968313  PMID: 22195688
Airway smooth muscle; allergy; antagonist; anti-histamine; anti-serotonic; asthma; IgE mediated; novel compound; PCLS; reverse agonist
9.  Functional Consequences of Methionine Oxidation of hERG Potassium Channels 
Biochemical pharmacology  2007;74(5):702-711.
Reactive species oxidatively modify numerous proteins including ion channels. Oxidative sensitivity of ion channels is often conferred by amino acids containing sulfur atoms, such as cysteine and methionine. Functional consequences of oxidative modification of methionine in hERG1 (human ether à go-go related gene 1), which encodes cardiac IKr channels, are unknown. Here we used chloramine-T (ChT), which preferentially oxidizes methionine, to examine the functional consequences of methionine oxidation of hERG channels stably expressed in a human embryonic kidney cell line (HEK 293) and native hERG channels in a human neuroblastoma cell line (SH-SY5Y). ChT (300 µM) significantly decreased whole-cell hERG current in both HEK 293 and SH-SY5Y cells. In HEK 293 cells, the effects of ChT on hERG current were time- and concentration-dependent, and were markedly attenuated in the presence of enzyme methionine sulfoxide reductase A that specifically repairs oxidized methionine. After treatment with ChT, the channel deactivation upon repolarization to −60 or −100 mV was significantly accelerated. The effect of ChT on channel activation kinetics was voltage-dependent; activation slowed during depolarization to +30 mV but accelerated during depolarization to 0 or −10 mV. In contrast, the reversal potential, inactivation kinetics, and voltage-dependence of steady-state inactivation remained unaltered. Our results demonstrate that the redox status of methionine is an important modulator of hERG channel.
PMCID: PMC3905454  PMID: 17624316
hERG; K-channel; chloramine-T; methionine; oxidation; methionine sulfoxide reductase
11.  Cysteines control the N- and C-linker-dependent gating of KCNH1 potassium channels 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2012;1818(5):1187-1195.
KCNH1 (EAG1) is a member of the Kv family of voltage-gated potassium channels. However, KCNH1 channels also show some amino-acid sequence similarity to cyclic-nucleotide-regulated channels: they harbor an N-terminal PAS domain, a C-terminal cyclic nucleotide binding homology domain (cNBHD), and N- and C-terminal binding sites for calmodulin. Another notable feature is the channels’ high sensitivity toward oxidative modification. Using human KCNH1 expressed in Xenopus oocytes and HEK 293 cells we investigated how oxidative modification alters channel function. Intracellular application of H2O2 or cysteine-specific modifiers potently inhibited KCNH1 channels in two phases. Our systematic cysteine mutagenesis study showed that the rapid and dominant phase was attributed to a right-shift in the voltage dependence of activation, caused by chemical modification of residues C145 and C214. The slow component depended on the C-terminal residues C532 and C562. The cysteine pairs are situated at structural elements linking the transmembrane S1 segment with the PAS domain (N-linker) and the transmembrane channel gate S6 with the cNBH domain (C-linker), respectively. The functional state of KCNH1 channels is determined by the oxidative status of these linkers that provide an additional dimension of channel regulation.
PMCID: PMC3319268  PMID: 22310694
Potassium channel; Reactive oxygen species; Oxidation; Sulfhydryl modification; Ether à go-go; Gating
12.  Trichostatin A Abrogates Airway Constriction, but Not Inflammation, in Murine and Human Asthma Models 
Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors may offer novel approaches in the treatment of asthma. We postulate that trichostatin A (TSA), a Class 1 and 2 inhibitor of HDAC, inhibits airway hyperresponsiveness in antigen-challenged mice. Mice were sensitized and challenged with Aspergillus fumigatus antigen (AF) and treated with TSA, dexamethasone, or vehicle. Lung resistance (RL) and dynamic compliance were measured, and bronchial alveolar lavage fluid (BALF) was analyzed for numbers of leukocytes and concentrations of cytokines. Human precision-cut lung slices (PCLS) were treated with TSA and their agonist-induced bronchoconstriction was measured, and TSA-treated human airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells were evaluated for the agonist-induced activation of Rho and intracellular release of Ca2+. The activity of HDAC in murine lungs was enhanced by antigen and abrogated by TSA. TSA also inhibited methacholine (Mch)-induced increases in RL and decreases in dynamic compliance in naive control mice and in AF-sensitized and -challenged mice. Total cell counts, concentrations of IL-4, and numbers of eosinophils in BALF were unchanged in mice treated with TSA or vehicle, whereas dexamethasone inhibited the numbers of eosinophils in BALF and concentrations of IL-4. TSA inhibited the carbachol-induced contraction of PCLS. Treatment with TSA inhibited the intracellular release of Ca2+ in ASM cells in response to histamine, without affecting the activation of Rho. The inhibition of HDAC abrogates airway hyperresponsiveness to Mch in both naive and antigen-challenged mice. TSA inhibits the agonist-induced contraction of PCLS and mobilization of Ca2+ in ASM cells. Thus, HDAC inhibitors demonstrate a mechanism of action distinct from that of anti-inflammatory agents such as steroids, and represent a promising therapeutic agent for airway disease.
PMCID: PMC3297166  PMID: 22298527
HDAC; asthma; allergen; mice; trichostatin A
13.  Drosophila QVR/SSS modulates the activation and C-type inactivation kinetics of Shaker K+ channels 
The quiver/sleepless (qvr/sss) gene encodes a small, glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein that plays a critical role in the regulation of sleep in Drosophila. Loss-of-function mutations in qvr/sss severely suppress sleep and effect multiple changes in in situ Shaker K+ currents, including decreased magnitude, slower time-to-peak, and cumulative inactivation. Recently, we demonstrated that SLEEPLESS (SSS) protein modulates Shaker channel activity, possibly through a direct interaction at the plasma membrane. We show here that SSS accelerates the activation of heterologously expressed Shaker channels with no effect on deactivation or fast N-type inactivation. Furthermore, this SSS-induced acceleration is sensitive to the pharmacological disruption of lipid rafts and sufficiently accounts for the slower time-to-peak of in situ Shaker currents seen in qvr/sss mutants. We also find that SSS decreases the rate of C-type inactivation of heterologously expressed Shaker channels, providing a potential mechanism for the cumulative inactivation phenotype induced by qvr/sss loss of function mutations. Kinetic modeling based on the in vitro results suggests that the SSS-dependent regulation of channel kinetics accounts for nearly 40% of the decrease in Shaker current magnitude in flies lacking SSS. Sleep duration in qvr/sss null mutants is restored to normal by a qvr/sss transgene that fully rescues the Shaker kinetic phenotypes but only partially rescues the decrease in current magnitude. Together, these results suggest that the role of SSS in the regulation of sleep in Drosophila correlates more strongly with the effects of SSS on Shaker kinetics than current magnitude.
PMCID: PMC3183472  PMID: 21813698
14.  Where’s the gate? Gating in the deep pore of the BKCa channel 
The Journal of General Physiology  2011;138(2):133-136.
PMCID: PMC3149440  PMID: 21746844
15.  An RGS4-Mediated Phenotypic Switch of Bronchial Smooth Muscle Cells Promotes Fixed Airway Obstruction in Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e28504.
In severe asthma, bronchodilator- and steroid-insensitive airflow obstruction develops through unknown mechanisms characterized by increased lung airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass and stiffness. We explored the role of a Regulator of G-protein Signaling protein (RGS4) in the ASM hyperplasia and reduced contractile capacity characteristic of advanced asthma. Using immunocytochemical staining, ASM expression of RGS4 was determined in endobronchial biopsies from healthy subjects and those from subjects with mild, moderate and severe asthma. Cell proliferation assays, agonist-induced calcium mobilization and bronchoconstriction were determined in cultured human ASM cells and in human precision cut lung slices. Using gain- and loss-of-function approaches, the precise role of RGS proteins was determined in stimulating human ASM proliferation and inhibiting bronchoconstriction. RGS4 expression was restricted to a subpopulation of ASM and was specifically upregulated by mitogens, which induced a hyperproliferative and hypocontractile ASM phenotype similar to that observed in recalcitrant asthma. RGS4 expression was markedly increased in bronchial smooth muscle of patients with severe asthma, and expression correlated significantly with reduced pulmonary function. Whereas RGS4 inhibited G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-mediated bronchoconstriction, unexpectedly RGS4 was required for PDGF-induced proliferation and sustained activation of PI3K, a mitogenic signaling molecule that regulates ASM proliferation. These studies indicate that increased RGS4 expression promotes a phenotypic switch of ASM, evoking irreversible airway obstruction in subjects with severe asthma.
PMCID: PMC3257220  PMID: 22253691
16.  Bilirubin oxidation end products (BOXes) directly alter K+ channels important in regulation of vascular tone 
The exact etiology of delayed cerebral vasospasm following cerebral hemorrhage is not clear but a family of compounds termed bilirubin oxidation end products (BOXes) derived from heme has been implicated. Because proper regulation of vascular smooth muscle tone involves large-conductance Ca2+- and voltage-dependent Slo1 K+ (BK, maxiK, KCa1.1) channels, we examined whether BOXes altered functional properties of the channel. Electrophysiological measurements of Slo1 channels heterologously expressed in a human cell line as well as of native mouse BK channels in isolated cerebral myocytes showed that BOXes markedly diminished open probability. Biophysically BOXes specifically stabilized the conformations of the channel with its ion conduction gate closed. The results of chemical amino-acid modifications and molecular mutagenesis together suggest that two specific lysine residues in the structural element linking the transmembrane ion-permeation domain to the carboxyl cytosolic domain of the Slo1 channel are critical in determining sensitivity of the channel to BOXes. Inhibition of Slo1 BK channels by BOXes may contribute to development of delayed cerebral vasospasm following brain hemorrhage.
PMCID: PMC2970662  PMID: 20424637
Slo1 BK channels; Ca2+-dependent K+ channels; Maxi-K channels; vasoconstriction; bilirubin
17.  Bilirubin oxidation end products directly alter K+ channels important in the regulation of vascular tone 
The exact etiology of delayed cerebral vasospasm following cerebral hemorrhage is not clear, but a family of compounds termed ‘bilirubin oxidation end products (BOXes)' derived from heme has been implicated. As proper regulation of vascular smooth muscle tone involves large-conductance Ca2+- and voltage-dependent Slo1 K+ (BK, maxiK, KCa1.1) channels, we examined whether BOXes altered functional properties of the channel. Electrophysiological measurements of Slo1 channels heterologously expressed in a human cell line and of native mouse BK channels in isolated cerebral myocytes showed that BOXes markedly diminished open probability. Biophysically, BOXes specifically stabilized the conformations of the channel with its ion conduction gate closed. The results of chemical amino-acid modifications and molecular mutagenesis together suggest that two specific lysine residues in the structural element linking the transmembrane ion-permeation domain to the carboxyl cytosolic domain of the Slo1 channel are critical in determining the sensitivity of the channel to BOXes. Inhibition of Slo1 BK channels by BOXes may contribute to the development of delayed cerebral vasospasm following brain hemorrhage.
PMCID: PMC2970662  PMID: 20424637
bilirubin; Ca2+-dependent K+ channels; maxi-K channels; Slo1 BK channels; vasoconstriction
18.  Distinct Functions of Glial and Neuronal Dystroglycan in the Developing and Adult Mouse Brain 
Cobblestone (type II) lissencephaly and mental retardation are characteristic features of a subset of congenital muscular dystrophies that include Walker-Warburg Syndrome, Muscle-Eye-Brain disease, and Fukuyama-type congenital muscular dystrophy. Although the majority of clinical cases are genetically undefined, several causative genes have been identified that encode known or putative glycosyltransferases in the biosynthetic pathway of dystroglycan. Here we test the effects of brain-specific deletion of dystroglycan, and show distinct functions for neuronal and glial dystroglycan. Deletion of dystroglycan in the whole brain produced glial/neuronal heterotopia resembling the cerebral cortex malformation in cobblestone lissencephaly. In wild-type mice, dystroglycan stabilizes the basement membrane of the glia limitans, thereby supporting the cortical infrastructure necessary for neuronal migration. This function depends on extracellular dystroglycan interactions, since the cerebral cortex developed normally in transgenic mice that lack the dystroglycan intracellular domain. Also, forebrain histogenesis was preserved in mice with neuron-specific deletion of dystroglycan, but hippocampal long-term potentiation was blunted, as is also the case in the Largemyd mouse, in which dystroglycan glycosylation is disrupted. Our findings provide genetic evidence that neuronal dystroglycan plays a role in synaptic plasticity and that glial dystroglycan is involved in forebrain development. Differences in dystroglycan glycosylation in distinct cell types of the CNS may therefore contribute to the diversity of dystroglycan function in the CNS, as well as to the broad clinical spectrum of type II lissencephalies.
PMCID: PMC2979314  PMID: 20980614
19.  A mutually exclusive alternative exon of slo1 codes for a neuronal BK channel with altered function 
Channels (Austin, Tex.)  2008;2(4):278-282.
Large-conductance Ca2+- and voltage-activated K+ (BK) channels are comprised of four pore-forming α-subunits (Slo1), whose mRNA is alternatively spliced in a cell-specific manner. Here we report the first case of a correctly spliced mutually exclusive exon in a mammalian BK channel; an exon coding for the region from S6 to the RCK1 domain is exchanged for an alternative exon of the same length. The Slo1 transcript with this novel exon is present in native brain tissues and inclusion of the alternative exon profoundly alters the channel’s gating characteristics: faster activation at low Ca2+ concentrations and greater open probability at resting membrane potential at high Ca2+ concentrations. The novel gating features conferred by the alternative exon are dominant over those of the commonly described Slo1 variant when coexpressed. These data show that evolutionary preserved regulation of alternative Slo1 splicing of the S6-RCK1 linker creates fine-tuning of neuronal excitability.
PMCID: PMC2921853  PMID: 18719396
Slo1; BK channels; gene splicing; Ca2+ dependence; K(Ca2+); KCNMA1
20.  Modulation of BKCa channel gating by endogenous signaling molecules 
Physiology (Bethesda, Md.)  2009;24:26-35.
Large-conductance Ca2+- and voltage-activated K+ (BKCa, MaxiK or Slo1) channels are expressed in almost every tissue in our body and participate in many critical functions such as neuronal excitability, vascular tone regulation and neurotransmitter release. The functional versatility of BKCa channels owes in part to the availability of a spectacularly wide array of biological modulators of the channel function. In this review, we focus on modulation of BKCa channels by small endogenous molecules, emphasizing their molecular mechanisms. The mechanistic information available from studies on the small naturally occurring modulators is expected to contribute to our understanding of the physiological and pathophysiological roles of BKCa channels.
PMCID: PMC2914466  PMID: 19196649
21.  Oxidation of multiple methionine residues impairs rapid sodium channel inactivation 
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) readily oxidize the sulfur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine (Met). The impact of Met oxidation on the fast inactivation of the skeletal muscle sodium channel NaV1.4 expressed in human embryonic kidney cells was studied by applying the Met-preferring oxidant chloramine-T (ChT) or by irradiating the ROS-producing dye Lucifer Yellow in the patch pipettes. Both interventions dramatically slowed down inactivation of the sodium channels. Replacement of Met in the Ile-Phe-Met inactivation motif with Leu (M1305L) strongly attenuated the oxidizing effect on inactivation but did not eliminate it completely. Mutagenesis of conserved Met residues in the intracellular linkers connecting the membrane-spanning segments of the channel (M1469L and M1470L) also markedly diminished the oxidation sensitivity of the channel, while that of other conserved Met residues (442, 1139, 1154, 1316) were without any noticeable effect. The results of mutagenesis of results, assays of other NaV channel isoforms (NaV1.2, NaV1.5, NaV1.7) and the kinetics of the oxidation-induced removal of inactivation collectively indicate that multiple Met target residues need to be oxidized to completely impair inactivation. This arrangement using multiple Met residues confers a finely graded oxidative modulation of NaV channels and allows organisms to adapt to a variety of oxidative stress conditions, such as ischemic reperfusion.
PMCID: PMC2913308  PMID: 18369661
Sodium channel; Na+ channel; Inactivation; Methionine oxidation; Chloramine-T; Lucifer Yellow; Patch clamp
22.  Comparative effects of H+ and Ca2+ on large-conductance Ca2+- and voltage-gated Slo1 K+ channels 
Channels (Austin, Tex.)  2009;3(4):249-258.
Large-conductance Ca2+- and voltage-gated Slo1 BK channels are allosterically activated by depolarization and intracellular ligands such as Ca2+. Of the two high-affinity Ca2+ sensors present in the channel, the RCK1 sensor also mediates H+-dependent activation of the channel. In this study, we examined the comparative mechanisms of the channel activation by Ca2+ and H+. Steady-state macroscopic conductance-voltage measurements as well as single-channel openings at negative voltages where voltage-sensor activation is negligible showed that at respective saturating concentrations Ca2+ is more effective in relative stabilization of the open conformation than H+. Calculations using the Debye-Hückel formulation suggest that small structural changes in the RCK1 sensor, on the order of few angstroms, may accompany the H+-mediated opening of the channel. While the efficacy of H+ in activation of the channel is less than that of Ca2+, H+ more effectively accelerates the activation kinetics when examined at the concentrations equipotent on macroscopic voltage-dependent activation. The RCK1 sensor therefore is capable of transducing the nature of the ligand bound and transmits qualitatively different information to the channel’s permeation gate.
PMCID: PMC2824562  PMID: 19617704
BK channel; Slo1 channel; Ca2+-dependent K+ channel; voltage-gated channel; calcium; potassium; proton
23.  Reciprocal regulation of the Ca2+ and H+ sensitivity in the Slo1 BK channel conferred by the RCK1 domain 
Increasing evidence suggests that intracellular H+ directly stimulates large-conductance Ca2+- and voltage-activated K+ (Slo1 BK) channels, thus providing a crucial link between membrane excitability and cell metabolism. Here we report that two histidine residues, His365 and His394, located in the intracellular RCK1 domain serve as the H+ sensors of the Slo1 BK channel. Activation of the channel by H+ requires electrostatic interactions between the histidine residues and a nearby negatively charged residue involved in the channel’s high-affinity Ca2+ sensitivity. Reciprocally, His365 and His394 also participate in the Ca2+-dependent activation of the channel, functioning as Ca2+ mimetics once protonated. Therefore, a common motif in the RCK1 domain mediates the stimulatory effects of both H+ and Ca2+, and provides a basis for the bidirectional coupling of cell metabolism and membrane electrical excitability.
PMCID: PMC2905141  PMID: 18345016
24.  SLEEPLESS, a Ly–6/Neurotoxin Family Member, Regulates Levels, Localization, and Activity of Shaker 
Nature neuroscience  2009;13(1):69-75.
Sleep is a whole–organism phenomenon accompanied by global changes in neural activity. We previously identified SLEEPLESS (SSS) as a novel glycosylphosphatidyl–inositol–anchored protein required for sleep in Drosophila. Here, we demonstrate a critical role for SSS in regulating the sleep–modulating potassium channel, Shaker. SSS and Shaker exhibit similar expression patterns in the brain and specifically affect each other’s expression levels. sss mutants exhibit altered Shaker localization, reduced Shaker current density, and slower Shaker current kinetics. Transgenic expression of sss in sss mutants rescues defects in Shaker expression and activity cell–autonomously and also suggests that SSS functions in wake–promoting, cholinergic neurons. Importantly, in heterologous cells, SSS accelerates kinetics of Shaker currents and can be co–immunoprecipitated with Shaker, suggesting that SSS interacts with Shaker and modulates its activity. SSS is predicted to belong to the Ly–6/neurotoxin superfamily, suggesting a novel mechanism for regulation of neuronal excitability by endogenous toxin–like molecules.
PMCID: PMC2842941  PMID: 20010822
25.  Differential trafficking of carboxyl isoforms of Ca2+-gated (Slo1) potassium channels 
FEBS letters  2007;581(5):1000-1008.
The pore-forming subunit of the large-conductance Ca2+-dependent K+ (Slo1) channel is encoded by one gene. However, the functional properties of Slo1 channels are diverse in part because of their numerous regulatory mechanisms including posttranslational modification and alternative splicing. In particular, multiple splice variants of the pore-forming subunit have been reported but their significance is only beginning to be elucidated. Here we examined the cell biological properties of the three common C-terminal isoforms that differ in the last 8 (Slo1_ERL and Slo1_VYR) or 61 residues (Slo1_DEC). We found that Slo1_DEC, the longest isoform, shows dramatically reduced surface expression compared to that of Slo1_ERL or Slo1_VYR. Immunocytochemistry revealed that a large fraction of Slo1_DEC remains localized in endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Using a GST fusion protein containing the Slo1_DEC-specific sequence, affinity purification was carried out to isolate interacting proteins. The identified proteins include protein phosphatases 2A (PP2A-A), , actin, and tubulin. The PP2A-A interaction is specific to Slo1_DEC and causes a significant reduction of phosphorylation in Slo1_DEC but not Slo1_ERL or Slo1_VYR. The results together support the notion that Slo1_DEC nucleates isoform-specific protein complexes and possesses a cis element(s) for regulating trafficking of the Slo1 channels.
PMCID: PMC1896267  PMID: 17303127

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