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CO(2) inhibits specific inward rectifier K(+) channels by decreases in intra- and extracellular pH.

G Zhu, C Liu, Z Qu, S Chanchevalap, H Xu, C Jiang

J. Cell. Physiol., 2000 Apr , 183, 53-64

Hypercapnia has been shown to affect cellular excitability by modulating K(+) channels. To understand the mechanisms for this modulation, four cloned K(+) channels were studied by expressing them in Xenopus oocytes. Exposures of the oocytes to CO(2) for 4-6 min produced reversible and concentration-dependent inhibitions of Kir1.1 and Kir2.3 currents, but had no effect on Kir2.1 and Kir6.1 currents. Intra- and extracellular pH (pH(i), pH(o)) dropped during CO(2) exposures. The inhibition of Kir2.3 currents was mediated by reductions in both intra- and extracellular pH, whereas the suppression of Kir1.1 resulted from intracellular acidification. In cell-free excised inside-out patches with cytosolic-soluble factors washed out, a decrease in pH(i) produced a fast and reversible inhibition of macroscopic Kir2.3 currents. The degree of this inhibition was similar to that produced by hypercapnia when compared at the same pH(i) level. Exposure of cytosolic surface of patch membranes to a perfusate bubbled with 15% CO(2) without changing pH failed to inhibit the Kir2.3 currents. These results therefore indicate that (1) hypercapnia inhibits specific K(+) channels, (2) these inhibitions are caused by intra- and extracellular protons rather than molecular CO(2), and (3) these effects are independent of cytosol-soluble factors.