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©2012 Shruti et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract or Description

The large-conductance K(+) channel (BK channel) can control neural excitability, and enhanced channel currents facilitate high firing rates in cortical neurons. The brain-specific auxiliary subunit β4 alters channel Ca(++)- and voltage-sensitivity, and β4 knock-out animals exhibit spontaneous seizures. Here we investigate β4's effect on BK channel trafficking to the plasma membrane. Using a novel genetic tag to track the cellular location of the pore-forming BKα subunit in living cells, we find that β4 expression profoundly reduces surface localization of BK channels via a C-terminal ER retention sequence. In hippocampal CA3 neurons from C57BL/6 mice with endogenously high β4 expression, whole-cell BK channel currents display none of the characteristic properties of BKα+β4 channels observed in heterologous cells. Finally, β4 knock-out animals exhibit a 2.5-fold increase in whole-cell BK channel current, indicating that β4 also regulates current magnitude in vivo. Thus, we propose that a major function of the brain-specific β4 subunit in CA3 neurons is control of surface trafficking.



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Published In

PLoS One, 7, 3, 33429-33429.