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Identification of the Kv2.1 K+ channel as a major component of the delayed rectifier K+ current in rat hippocampal neurons.

H Murakoshi, J S Trimmer

J. Neurosci., 1999 Mar 1 , 19, 1728-35

Molecular cloning studies have revealed the existence of a large family of voltage-gated K+ channel genes expressed in mammalian brain. This molecular diversity underlies the vast repertoire of neuronal K+ channels that regulate action potential conduction and neurotransmitter release and that are essential to the control of neuronal excitability. However, the specific contribution of individual K+ channel gene products to these neuronal K+ currents is poorly understood. We have shown previously, using an antibody, "KC, " specific for the Kv2.1 K+ channel alpha-subunit, the high-level expression of Kv2.1 protein in hippocampal neurons in situ and in culture. Here we show that KC is a potent blocker of K+ currents expressed in cells transfected with the Kv2.1 cDNA, but not of currents expressed in cells transfected with other highly related K+ channel alpha-subunit cDNAs. KC also blocks the majority of the slowly inactivating outward current in cultured hippocampal neurons, although antibodies to two other K+ channel alpha-subunits known to be expressed in these cells did not exhibit blocking effects. In all cases the blocking effects of KC were eliminated by previous incubation with a recombinant fusion protein containing the KC antigenic sequence. Together these studies show that Kv2.1, which is expressed at high levels in most mammalian central neurons, is a major contributor to the delayed rectifier K+ current in hippocampal neurons and that the KC antibody is a powerful tool for the elucidation of the role of the Kv2.1 K+ channel in regulating neuronal excitability.