Molecular Mechanisms Controlling Functional Voltage-Gated K+Channel Diversity and Expression in the Mammalian Heart

  • Jeanne M. Nerbonne


Depolarization-activated, Ca2+-independent, outward K+ currents contribute to determining the magnitude and the duration of action potentials in cardiac cells. Several distinct types of voltage-gated K+ currents that serve these functions have been characterized (Anumonwo et al., 1991; Barry and Nerbonne, 1996). Important among these are the transient outward currents, I to,f and I to,s’ and several components of delayed rectification, including I Kr (I Kr(rapid)), I Ks (I K(slow)), and I Kur (I K(ultrarapid)), and others. There are interspecies differences in the expression of the various voltage-gated, cardiac K+ currents, as well as regional differences amongst myocytes from different regions of the heart within a single species. These distinct K+ current expression patterns contribute to the variability in action potential waveforms recorded in different regions of the heart (Antzelevitch et al., 1994; Barry and Nerbonne, 1996). Importantly, however, the time- and voltage-dependent properties of the various I t0 and I K currents in different cardiac cell types (and species) are quite similar, suggesting that the molecular identity of the K+ channels underlying these currents is predictable. A number of voltage-gated K+ channel (Kv) pore-forming (α) and accessory (β and minK) subunits are expressed in or have been cloned from the heart. A variety of experimental approaches have been exploited to define the relationships between these subunits and the functional voltage-gated K+ channels in cardiac cells. Considerable progress has been made in defining these relationships, and all of the results obtained to date (discussed in detail in subsequent sections) suggest that distinct molecular entities underlie the electrophysiologically distinct types of voltage-gated K+ currents/ Channels in myocardial cells.


Potassium Channel Ventricular Myocytes Atrial Myocytes Mammalian Heart Transient Outward Current 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeanne M. Nerbonne
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Biology and PharmacologyWashington University Medical SchoolSt. LouisUSA

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