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Presynaptic A-current based on heteromultimeric K+ channels detected in vivo.

M Sheng, Y J Liao, Y N Jan, L Y Jan

Nature, 1993 Sep 2 , 365, 72-5

A wide variety of voltage-gated K+ channels are involved in the regulation of neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission. Their heterogeneity arises in part from the large number of genes encoding different K+ channel subunits (reviewed in ref. 1). In addition, heterologous expression studies indicate that assembly of distinct subunits into heteromultimeric channels may contribute further to K+ channel diversity. A question has been whether heteromeric K+ channels actually form in vivo, and if so, whether specific combinations of subunits could account for major K+ currents identified in neurons. We present here biochemical evidence that Kv1.4 and Kv1.2, two K+ channel subunits of the Shaker subfamily, co-assemble in rat brain. The Kv1.4/Kv1.2 heteromultimer combines features of both parent subunits, resulting in an A-type K+ channel. Immunocytochemical evidence suggests that the heteromultimers are localized in axons and nerve terminals. We propose that Kv1.4/Kv1.2 heteromultimers may form the molecular basis of a presynaptic A-type K+ channel involved in the regulation of neurotransmitter release.