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Physiology and pathophysiology of K(ATP) channels in the pancreas and cardiovascular system: a review.

Susumu Seino

J. Diabetes Complicat., 2003 Mar-Apr , 17, 2-5

K(ATP) channels are present in pancreatic and extrapancreatic tissues such as heart and smooth muscle, and display diverse molecular composition. They contain two different structural subunits: an inwardly rectifying potassium channel subunit (Kir6.x) and a sulfonylurea receptor (SURX). Recent studies on genetically engineered Kir6.2 knockout mice have provided a better understanding of the physiological and pathophysiological roles of Kir6.2-containing K(ATP) channels. Kir6.2/SUR1 has a pivotal role in pancreatic insulin secretion. Kir6.2/SUR2A mediates the effects of K(ATP) channels openers on cardiac excitability and contractility and contributes to ischemic preconditioning. However, controversy remains on the physiological properties of the K(ATP) channels in vascular smooth muscle cells. Kir6.1 knockout mice exhibit sudden cardiac death due to cardiac ischemia, indicating that Kir6.1 rather than Kir6.2 is critical in the regulation of vascular tone. This article summarizes current understanding of the physiology and pathophysiology of Kir6.1- and Kir6.2-containing K(ATP) channels.