European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 40, Issue 9, pp 1029–1042 | Cite as

Effect of lithium on the electrical properties of polycystin-2 (TRPP2)

  • María del Rocío Cantero
  • Horacio F. CantielloEmail author
Original Paper


Polycystin-2 (PC2, TRPP2) is a TRP-type, non-selective cation channel whose dysfunction is implicated in changes in primary cilium structure and genesis of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). Lithium (Li+) is a potent pharmaceutical agent whose effect on cell function is largely unknown. In this work, we explored the effect of Li+ on PC2 channel function. In vitro translated PC2 was studied in a lipid bilayer reconstitution system exposed to different chemical conditions such as Li+ or K+ chemical gradients and different symmetrical concentrations of either cation. Li+ inhibited PC2 function only from the external side, by decreasing the single-channel conductance and modifying the reversal potential consistent with both permeability to and blockage of the channel. When a chemical gradient was imposed, the PC2 single-channel conductance was 144 pS and 107 pS for either K+ or Li+, respectively. Data were analysed in terms of the Goldman–Hodgkin–Katz approximation and energy models based on absolute rate theory to understand the mechanism(s) of Li+ transport and blockage of PC2. The 2S3B model better explained the findings, including saturation, anomalous mole fraction, non-linearity of the current–voltage curves under bi-ionic conditions and concentration dependence of permeability ratios. The data indicate that Li+ modifies PC2 channel function, whose effect unmasks a high-affinity binding site for this ion, and an intrinsic asymmetry in the pore structure of the channel. The findings provide insights into possible mechanism(s) of Li+ regulation of ciliary length and dysfunction mediated by this cation.


TRP channels Absolute rate theory Anomalous molar fraction Primary cilia 



Two-site three-barrier model


Three-site four-barrier model


Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease


Epithelial sodium channel




Modified Goldman–Hodgkin–Katz


Original Goldman–Hodgkin–Katz


4-(2-Hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazineethanesulphonic acid


Human syncytiotrophoblast


Polycystin-2 (TRPP2)


Permeation selectivity








Transient receptor potential


TRP canonical type-1


Current–voltage relationship


Reversal potential



The authors are members of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina. The authors are deeply grateful to Dr. Patricia Bonazzola, for constant and unconditional support and encouragement, and Sumit Lal, for excellent technical support. The authors gratefully acknowledge partial support of this study by NIH ARRA award DK077079.

Supplementary material

249_2011_715_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (321 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 321 kb)


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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • María del Rocío Cantero
    • 1
  • Horacio F. Cantiello
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Cátedra de Biofísica, Facultad de OdontologíaUBABuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Nephrology Division, Department of MedicineMassachusetts General Hospital East and Harvard Medical SchoolCharlestownUSA

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