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In situ hybridization reveals extensive diversity of K+ channel mRNA in isolated ferret cardiac myocytes.

M V Brahmajothi, M J Morales, S Liu, R L Rasmusson, D L Campbell, H C Strauss

Circ. Res., 1996 Jun , 78, 1083-9

The molecular basis of K+ currents that generate repolarization in the heart is uncertain. In part, this reflects the similar functional properties different K+ channel clones display when heterologously expressed, in addition to the molecular diversity of the voltage-gated K+ channel family. To determine the identity, regional distribution, and cellular distribution of voltage-sensitive K+ channel mRNA subunits expressed in ferret heart, we used fluorescent labeled oligonucleotide probes to perform in situ hybridization studies on enzymatically isolated myocytes from the sinoatrial (SA) node, right and left atria, right and left ventricles, and interatrial and interventricular septa. The most widely distributed K+ channel transcripts in the ferret heart were Kv1.5 (present in 69.3% to 85.6% of myocytes tested, depending on the anatomic region from which myocytes were isolated) and Kv1.4 (46.1% to 93.7%), followed by kv1.2, Kv2.1, and Kv4.2. Surprisingly, many myocytes contain transcripts for Kv1.3, Kv2.2, Kv4.1, Kv5.1, and members of the Kv3 family. Kv1.1, Kv1.6, and Kv6.1, which were rarely expressed in working myocytes, were more commonly expressed in SA nodal cells. IRK was expressed in ventricular (84.3% to 92.8%) and atrial (52.4% to 64.0%) cells but was nearly absent (6.6%) in SA nodal cells; minK was most frequently expressed in SA nodal cells (33.7%) as opposed to working myocytes (10.3% to 29.3%). Two gene products implicated in long-QT syndrome, ERG and KvLQT1, were common in all anatomic regions (41.1% to 58.2% and 52.1% to 71.8%, respectively). These results show that the diversity of K+ channel mRNA in heart is greater than previously suspected and that the molecular basis of K+ channels may vary from cell to cell within distinct regions of the heart and also between major anatomic regions.