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HERG-Like potassium current regulates the resting membrane potential in glomus cells of the rabbit carotid body.

J L Overholt, E Ficker, T Yang, H Shams, G R Bright, N R Prabhakar

J. Neurophysiol., 2000 Mar , 83, 1150-7

Direct evidence for a specific K(+) channel underlying the resting membrane potential in glomus cells of the carotid body has been absent. The product of the human ether-a-go-go-related gene (HERG) produces inward rectifier currents that are known to contribute to the resting membrane potential in other neuronal cells. The goal of the present study was to determine whether carotid body glomus cells express HERG-like K(+) current, and if so, to determine whether a HERG-like current regulates the resting membrane potential. Freshly dissociated rabbit glomus cells under whole cell voltage clamp exhibited slowly decaying outward currents that activated 20-30 mV positive to the resting membrane potential. Raising extracellular K(+) revealed a slowly deactivating inward tail current indicative of HERG-like K(+) current. HERG-like currents were not found in cells resembling type II cells. The HERG-like current was blocked by dofetilide (DOF) in a concentration-dependent manner (IC(50) = 13 +/- 4 nM, mean +/- SE) and high concentrations of Ba(2+) (1 and 10 mM). The biophysical and pharmacological characteristics of this inward tail current suggest that it is conducted by a HERG-like channel. The steady-state activation properties of the HERG-like current (V(h) = -44 +/- 2 mV) suggest that it is active at the resting membrane potential in glomus cells. In whole cell, current-clamped glomus cells (average resting membrane potential, - 48 +/- 4 mV), DOF, but not tetraethylammonium, caused a significant (13 mV) depolarizing shift in the resting membrane potential. Using fluorescence imaging, DOF increased [Ca(2+)](i) in isolated glomus cells. In an in-vitro carotid body preparation, DOF increased basal sensory discharge in the carotid sinus nerve in a concentration-dependent manner. These results demonstrate that glomus cells express a HERG-like current that is active at, and responsible for controlling the resting membrane potential.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10712445