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Generation of a constitutive Na+-dependent inward-rectifier current in rat adult atrial myocytes by overexpression of Kir3.4.

Elisa Mintert, Leif I Bosche, Andreas Rinne, Mathias Timpert, Marie-Cécile Kienitz, Lutz Pott, Kirsten Bender

J. Physiol. (Lond.), 2007 Nov 15 , 585, 3-13

Apart from gating by interaction with betagamma subunits from heterotrimeric G proteins upon stimulation of appropriate receptors, Kir.3 channels have been shown to be gated by intracellular Na+. However, no information is available on how Na+-dependent gating affects endogenous Kir3.1/Kir3.4 channels in mammalian atrial myocytes. We therefore studied how loading of adult atrial myocytes from rat hearts via the patch pipette filling solution with different concentrations of Na+ ([Na+]pip) affects Kir3 current. Surprisingly, in a range between 0 and 60 mm, Na+ neither had an effect on basal inward-rectifier current nor on the current activated by acetylcholine. Overexpression of Kir3.4 in adult atrial myocytes forced by adenoviral gene transfer results in formation of functional homomeric channels that interact with betagamma subunits upon activation of endogenous muscarinic receptors. These channels are activated at [Na+]pip >or= 15 mm, resulting in a receptor-independent basal inward rectifier current (I bir). I bir was neither affected by pertussis toxin nor by GDP-beta-S, suggesting G-protein-independent activation. PIP(2) depletion via endogenous PLC-coupled alpha1 adrenergic receptors causes inhibition of endogenous Kir3.1/3.4 channel currents by about 75%. In contrast, inhibition of Na+-activated I bir amounts to < 20%. The effect of the Kir3 channel blocker tertiapin-Q can be described using an IC50 of 12 nm (endogenous I K(ACh)) and 0.61 nm (I bir). These data clearly identify I bir as a homotetrameric Kir3.4 channel current with novel properties of regulation and pharmacology. Ibir shares some properties with a basal current recently described in atrial myocytes from an animal model of atrial fibrillation (AF) and AF patients.