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Alternative splicing determines sensitivity of murine calcium-activated potassium channels to glucocorticoids.

L Tian, M S Hammond, H Florance, F A Antoni, M J Shipston

J. Physiol. (Lond.), 2001 Nov 15 , 537, 57-68

1. Large-conductance Ca(2+)- and voltage-activated potassium (BK) channels are important regulators of cellular excitability. Here, we present a patch-clamp electrophysiological analysis of splice-variant-specific regulation by the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone (DEX) of BK channels consisting of cloned STREX or ZERO alpha-subunit variants expressed in human embryonic kidney (HEK 293) cells. 2. STREX channels in isolated membrane patches were inhibited by protein kinase A (PKA) and this was blocked on pre-treatment of intact cells with DEX (100 nM) for 2 h. 3. The effect of DEX required the synthesis of new mRNA and protein. Furthermore, it required protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A)-like activity intimately associated with the channels, as it was blocked by 10 nM okadaic acid but not by the specific protein phosphatase-1 inhibitor peptide PPI-2. 4. ZERO variant channels that lack the STREX insert were activated by PKA but were not influenced by DEX. ZERO channels containing a mutant STREX domain (S4(STREX)A) were also activated by PKA. Importantly, DEX blocked PKA activation of S4(STREX)A channels in a PP2A-dependent manner. 5. Taken together, the STREX domain is crucial for glucocorticoid regulation of BK channels through a PP2A-type enzyme. Moreover, glucocorticoids appear to induce a generic set of proteins in different types of cells, the actions of which depend on the expression of cell-specific targets.