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Hypoxia regulates expression and activity of Kv1.3 channels in T lymphocytes: a possible role in T cell proliferation.

Laura Conforti, Milan Petrovic, Dina Mohammad, Susan Lee, Qing Ma, Sharon Barone, Alexandra H Filipovich

J. Immunol., 2003 Jan 15 , 170, 695-702

T lymphocytes are exposed to hypoxia during their development and also when they migrate to hypoxic pathological sites such as tumors and wounds. Although hypoxia can affect T cell development and function, the mechanisms by which immune cells sense and respond to changes in O(2)-availability are poorly understood. K(+) channels encoded by the Kv1.3 subtype of the voltage-dependent Kv1 gene family are highly expressed in lymphocytes and are involved in the control of membrane potential and cell function. In this study, we investigate the sensitivity of Kv1.3 channels to hypoxia in freshly isolated human T lymphocytes and leukemic Jurkat T cells. Acute exposure to hypoxia (20 mmHg, 2 min) inhibits Kv1.3 currents in both cell types by 20%. Prolonged exposure to hypoxia (1% O(2) for 24 h) selectively decreases Kv1.3 protein levels in Jurkat T cells by 47%, but not Kvbeta2 and SK2 Ca-activated K(+) channel subunit levels. The decrease in Kv1.3 protein levels occurs with no change in Kv1.3 mRNA expression and is associated with a significant decrease in K(+) current density. A decrease in Kv1.3 polypeptide levels similar to that obtained during hypoxia is produced by Kv1.3 channel blockage. Our results indicate that hypoxia produces acute and long-term inhibition of Kv1.3 channels in T lymphocytes. This effect could account for the inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation during hypoxia. Indeed, we herein present evidence showing that hypoxia selectively inhibits TCR-mediated proliferation and that this inhibition is associated with a decrease in Kv1.3 proteins.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12517930