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Auxiliary KCNE subunits modulate both homotetrameric Kv2.1 and heterotetrameric Kv2.1/Kv6.4 channels.

Jens-Peter David, Jeroen I Stas, Nicole Schmitt, Elke Bocksteins

Sci Rep, 2015 , 5, 12813

The diversity of the voltage-gated K(+) (Kv) channel subfamily Kv2 is increased by interactions with auxiliary β-subunits and by assembly with members of the modulatory so-called silent Kv subfamilies (Kv5-Kv6 and Kv8-Kv9). However, it has not yet been investigated whether these two types of modulating subunits can associate within and modify a single channel complex simultaneously. Here, we demonstrate that the transmembrane β-subunit KCNE5 modifies the Kv2.1/Kv6.4 current extensively, whereas KCNE2 and KCNE4 only exert minor effects. Co-expression of KCNE5 with Kv2.1 and Kv6.4 did not alter the Kv2.1/Kv6.4 current density but modulated the biophysical properties significantly; KCNE5 accelerated the activation, slowed the deactivation and steepened the slope of the voltage-dependence of the Kv2.1/Kv6.4 inactivation by accelerating recovery of the closed-state inactivation. In contrast, KCNE5 reduced the current density ~2-fold without affecting the biophysical properties of Kv2.1 homotetramers. Co-localization of Kv2.1, Kv6.4 and KCNE5 was demonstrated with immunocytochemistry and formation of Kv2.1/Kv6.4/KCNE5 and Kv2.1/KCNE5 complexes was confirmed by Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer experiments performed in HEK293 cells. These results suggest that a triple complex consisting of Kv2.1, Kv6.4 and KCNE5 subunits can be formed. In vivo, formation of such tripartite Kv2.1/Kv6.4/KCNE5 channel complexes might contribute to tissue-specific fine-tuning of excitability.