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Specific and slow inhibition of the kir2.1 K+ channel by gambogic acid.

Elena Zaks-Makhina, Hui Li, Anatoly Grishin, Vicenta Salvador-Recatalà, Edwin S Levitan

J. Biol. Chem., 2009 Jun 5 , 284, 15432-8

Although Kir2.1 channels are important in the heart and other excitable cells, there are virtually no specific drugs for this K+ channel. In search of Kir2.1 modulators, we screened a library of 720 naturally occurring compounds using a yeast strain in which mammalian Kir2.1 enables growth at low [K+]. One of the identified compounds, gambogic acid (GA), potently (EC(50) < or = 100 nm) inhibited Kir2.1 channels in mammalian cells when applied chronically for 3 h. This potent and slow inhibition was not seen with Kv2.1, HERG or Kir1.1 channels. However, acutely applied GA acted as a weak (EC(50) = approximately 10 mum) non-selective K+ channel blocker. Intracellular delivery of GA via a patch pipette did not potentiate the acute effect of GA on Kir2.1, showing that slow uptake is not responsible for the delayed, potent effect. Immunoblots showed that total Kir2.1 protein expression was not altered by GA. Similarly, immunostaining of intact cells expressing Kir2.1 with an extracellular epitope tag demonstrated that GA does not affect Kir2.1 surface expression. However, the 3-h treatment with GA caused redistribution of Kir2.1 and Kv2.1 from the Triton X-100-insoluble to the Triton X-100-soluble membrane fraction. Thus, GA changes the K+ channel membrane microenvironment resulting in potent, specific, and slow acting inhibition of Kir2.1 channels.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19366693