Pflügers Archiv

, Volume 420, Issue 2, pp 180–186

Role of external Ca2+ and K+ in gating of cardiac delayed rectifier K+ currents

  • Michael C. Sanguinetti
  • Nancy K. Jurkiewicz
Heart, Circulation, Respiration and Blood; Environmental and Exercise Physiology

DOI: 10.1007/BF00374988

Cite this article as:
Sanguinetti, M.C. & Jurkiewicz, N.K. Pflügers Arch. (1992) 420: 180. doi:10.1007/BF00374988


We sought to determine whether extracellular Ca2+ (Cae2+) and K+ (Ke+) play essential roles in the normal functioning of cardiac K+ channels. Reports by others have shown that removal of Cae2+and Ke+alters the gating properties of neural delayed rectifier (IK) and A-type K+ currents, resulting in a loss of normal cation selectivity and voltage-dependent gating. We found that removal of Cae2+and Ke+from the solution bathing guinea pig ventricular myocytes often induced a leak conductance, but did not affect the ionic selectivity or time-dependent activation and deactivation properties of IK. The effect of [K+]e on the magnitude of the two components of cardiac IK was also examined. IK in guinea pig myocytes is comprised of two distinct types of currents: IKr (rapidly activating, rectifying) and IKs (slowly activating). The differential effect of Cae2+on the two components of IK (previously shown to shift the voltage dependence of activation of the two currents in opposite directions) was exploited to determine the role of Ke+on the magnitude of IKs and IKr. Lowering [K+]e from 4 to 0 mM increased IKs, as expected from the change in driving force for K+, but decreased IKr. The differential effect of [K+]e on the two components of cardiac IK may explain the reported discrepancies regarding modulation of cardiac IK conductance by this cation.

Key words

Voltage clampGuinea pig myocyteCardiac potassium channelsCalciumPotassium

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael C. Sanguinetti
    • 1
  • Nancy K. Jurkiewicz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyMerck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories, WP26-265West PointUSA