Colocalization of KCNQ1/KCNE channel subunits in the mouse gastrointestinal tract
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The KCNQ1 potassium channel α-subunit can associate with various KCNE β-subunits that drastically influence channel gating. Here we show that in the mouse gastrointestinal tract KCNQ1 is prominently expressed in stomach, small intestine and colon, while KCNE3 is expressed in the colon and to a lesser extent in small intestine. Immunostaining revealed that KCNQ1 colocalizes with KCNE3 in the basolateral membranes of crypt cells of the colon and small intestine. Together with the previously shown electrophysiological properties of KCNQ1/KCNE3 channels, this strongly suggests that they form the basolateral potassium conductance that is required for transepithelial cAMP-stimulated chloride secretion. In the stomach, KCNQ1 is expressed together with the H+/K+-ATPase in the luminal membrane of acid-secreting parietal cells of gastric glands. KCNE2, but neither KCNE1 nor KCNE3 was detected in the stomach by Northern analysis. Similar to KCNQ1, KCNE2 was present in gastric glands in only a subset of cells that probably represent parietal cells. The coexpression of KCNQ1 and KCNE2 in HEK293 cells yielded potassium currents that were open at resting voltages, suggesting that these heteromeric channels may underlie the apical potassium conductance in acid-secreting parietal cells that is necessary for the recycling of potassium ions during acid secretion via the H+/K+-ATPase.
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