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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

An ACTH- and ATP- regulated background K+ channel in adrenocortical cells is TREK-1.

Bovine adrenal zona fasciculata (AZF) cells express a background K(+) channel (I(AC)) that sets the resting potential and acts pivotally in ACTH-stimulated cortisol secretion. We have cloned a bTREK-1 (KCNK2) tandem-pore K(+) channel cDNA from AZF cells with properties that identify it as the native I(AC). The bTREK-1 cDNA is expressed robustly in AZF cells and includes transcripts of 4.9, 3.6, and 2.8 kb. In patch clamp recordings made from transiently transfected cells, bTREK-1 displayed distinctive properties of I(AC) in AZF cells. Specifically, bTREK-1 currents were outwardly rectifying with a large instantaneous and smaller time-dependent component. Similar to I(AC), bTREK-1 increased spontaneously in amplitude over many minutes of whole cell recording and was blocked potently by Ca(2+) antagonists including penfluridol and mibefradil and by 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-cAMP. Unitary TREK-1 and I(AC) currents were nearly identical in amplitude. The native I(AC) current, in turn, displayed properties that together are specific to TREK-1 K(+) channels. These include activation by intracellular acidification, enhancement by the neuroprotective agent riluzole, and outward rectification. bTREK-1 current differed from native K(+) current only in its lack of ATP dependence. In contrast to I(AC), the current density of bTREK-1 in human embryonic kidney-293 cells was not increased by raising pipette ATP from 0.1 to 5 mm. Further, the enhancement of I(AC) current in AZF cells by low pH and riluzole was facilitated by, and dependent on, ATP at millimolar concentrations in the pipette solution. Overall, these results establish the identity of I(AC) K(+) channels, demonstrate the expression of bTREK-1 in a specific endocrine cell, identify potent new TREK-1 antagonists, and assign a pivotal role for these tandem-pore channels in the physiology of cortisol secretion. The activation of I(AC) by ATP indicates that native bTREK-1 channels may function as sensors that couple the metabolic state of the cell to membrane potential, perhaps through an associated ATP-binding protein.[1]


  1. An ACTH- and ATP-regulated background K+ channel in adrenocortical cells is TREK-1. Enyeart, J.J., Xu, L., Danthi, S., Enyeart, J.A. J. Biol. Chem. (2002) [Pubmed]
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