KCNQ potassium channels in sensory system and neural circuits.
ABSTRACT: M channels, an important regulator of neural excitability, are composed of four subunits of the Kv7 (KCNQ) K(+) channel family. M channels were named as such because their activity was suppressed by stimulation of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. These channels are of particular interest because they are activated at the subthreshold membrane potentials. Furthermore, neural KCNQ channels are drug targets for the treatments of epilepsy and a variety of neurological disorders, including chronic and neuropathic pain, deafness, and mental illness. This review will update readers on the roles of KCNQ channels in the sensory system and neural circuits as well as discuss their respective mechanisms and the implications for physiology and medicine. We will also consider future perspectives and the development of additional pharmacological models, such as seizure, stroke, pain and mental illness, which work in combination with drug-design targeting of KCNQ channels. These models will hopefully deepen our understanding of KCNQ channels and provide general therapeutic prospects of related channelopathies.
Project description:Of the five human KCNQ (Kv7) channels, KCNQ1 with auxiliary subunit KCNE1 mediates the native cardiac I(Ks) current with mutations causing short and long QT cardiac arrhythmias. KCNQ4 mutations cause deafness. KCNQ2/3 channels form the native M-current controlling excitability of most neurons, with mutations causing benign neonatal febrile convulsions. Drosophila contains a single KCNQ (dKCNQ) that appears to serve alone the functions of all the duplicated mammalian neuronal and cardiac KCNQ channels sharing roughly 50-60% amino acid identity therefore offering a route to investigate these channels. Current information about the functional properties of dKCNQ is lacking therefore we have investigated these properties here. Using whole cell patch clamp electrophysiology we compare the biophysical and pharmacological properties of dKCNQ with the mammalian neuronal and cardiac KCNQ channels expressed in HEK cells. We show that Drosophila KCNQ (dKCNQ) is a slowly activating and slowly-deactivating K(+) current open at sub-threshold potentials that has similar properties to neuronal KCNQ2/3 with some features of the cardiac KCNQ1/KCNE1 accompanied by conserved sensitivity to a number of clinically relevant KCNQ blockers (chromanol 293B, XE991, linopirdine) and opener (zinc pyrithione). We also investigate the molecular basis of the differential selectivity of KCNQ channels to the opener retigabine and show a single amino acid substitution (M217W) can confer sensitivity to dKCNQ. We show dKCNQ has similar electrophysiological and pharmacological properties as the mammalian KCNQ channels, allowing future study of physiological and pathological roles of KCNQ in Drosophila and whole organism screening for new modulators of KCNQ channelopathies.
Project description:Kv7.x (KCNQ) voltage-gated potassium channels form the cardiac and auditory I(Ks) current and the neuronal M-current. The five Kv7 subtypes have distinct assembly preferences encoded by a C-terminal cytoplasmic assembly domain, the A-domain Tail. Here, we present the high-resolution structure of the Kv7.4 A-domain Tail together with biochemical experiments that show that the domain is a self-assembling, parallel, four-stranded coiled coil. Structural analysis and biochemical studies indicate conservation of the coiled coil in all Kv7 subtypes and that a limited set of interactions encode assembly specificity determinants. Kv7 mutations have prominent roles in arrhythmias, deafness, and epilepsy. The structure together with biochemical data indicate that A-domain Tail arrhythmia mutations cluster on the solvent-accessible surface of the subunit interface at a likely site of action for modulatory proteins. Together, the data provide a framework for understanding Kv7 assembly specificity and the molecular basis of a distinct set of Kv7 channelopathies.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Mutations in neuronal Kv7 (KCNQ) potassium channels can cause episodic neurological disorders. Paroxysmal dyskinesias with dystonia are a group of movement disorders which are regarded as ion channelopathies, but the role of Kv7 channels in the pathogenesis and as targets for the treatment have so far not been examined. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: In the present study, we therefore examined the effects of the activators of neuronal Kv7.2/7.3 channels retigabine (5, 7.5, 10 mg kg(-1) i.p. and 10, 20 mg kg(-1) p.o.) and flupirtine (10, 20 mg kg(-1) i.p.) and of the channel blocker 10,10-bis(4-pyridinylmethyl)-9(10H)-anthracenone (XE-991, 3 and 6 mg kg(-1) i.p.) in the dt sz mutant hamster, a model of paroxysmal dyskinesia in which dystonic episodes occur in response to stress. KEY RESULTS: Retigabine (10 mg kg(-1) i.p., 20 mg kg(-1) p.o.) and flupirtine (20 mg kg(-1) i.p.) significantly improved dystonia, while XE-991 caused a significant aggravation in the dt sz mutant. The antidystonic effect of retigabine (10 mg kg(-1) i.p.) was counteracted by XE-991 (3 mg kg(-1) i.p.). CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: These data indicate that dysfunctions of neuronal Kv7 channels deserve attention in dyskinesias. Since retigabine and flupirtine are well tolerated in humans, the present finding of pronounced antidystonic efficacy in the dt sz mutant suggests that neuronal Kv7 channel activators are interesting candidates for the treatment of dystonia-associated dyskinesias and probably of other types of dystonias. The established analgesic effects of Kv7 channel openers might contribute to improvement of these disorders which are often accompanied by painful muscle spasms.
Project description:M-type (Kv7, KCNQ) potassium channels are proteins that control the excitability of neurons and muscle cells. Many physiological and pathological mechanisms of excitation operate via the suppression of M channel activity or expression. Conversely, pharmacological augmentation of M channel activity is a recognized strategy for the treatment of hyperexcitability disorders such as pain and epilepsy. However, physiological mechanisms resulting in M channel potentiation are rare. Here we report that intracellular free zinc directly and reversibly augments the activity of recombinant and native M channels. This effect is mechanistically distinct from the known redox-dependent KCNQ channel potentiation. Interestingly, the effect of zinc cannot be attributed to a single histidine- or cysteine-containing zinc-binding site within KCNQ channels. Instead, zinc dramatically reduces KCNQ channel dependence on its obligatory physiological activator, phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2). We hypothesize that zinc facilitates interactions of the lipid-facing interface of a KCNQ protein with the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane in a way similar to that promoted by PIP2 Because zinc is increasingly recognized as a ubiquitous intracellular second messenger, this discovery might represent a hitherto unknown native pathway of M channel modulation and provide a fresh strategy for the design of M channel activators for therapeutic purposes.
Project description:Pre-eclampsia is associated with altered maternal and placental vascular reactivity. Kv7 channels (encoded by KCNQ 1-5 genes) are a potential contributor to the regulation of vascular tone in CPAs (chorionic plate arteries) during normal pregnancy. The aim of this study is to establish the expression profile of KCNQ subunits in CPAs taken from women with preeclampsia or normotensive women and to examine the functional relevance of the Kv7 channels on an altered expression profile of KCNQ subunits. The effects of Kv7 channel modulators on CPAs were investigated by tension measurement. Quantitative PCR experiments were used to analyze the expression of KCNQ genes. Western blotting and immunofluorescence were both used to analyze the protein expression of Kv7 channels. Finally, in CPAs from normotensive women, the Kv7 channel blocker XE991 increased arterial basal tone and U46619-induced contraction, and pre-contracted CPAs (10-7 M U46619) exhibited significant relaxation following treatment with Retigabine(Kv7.2-7.5 activator) and BMS-204352(Kv7.2-7.5 activator). However, ICA-27243(selective KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 activator) and ML277(selective KV7.1 activator) had no significant effect on tension in the pre-contracted CPAs. Conversely, compared with CPAs from normotensive women, the effects of XE991 on basal tone and agonist (U46619)-induced contractions in CPAs from women with preeclampsia were markedly attenuated. Moreover, the relaxation effects of Retigabine and BMS-204352 on pre-contracted CPA vessels from women with pre-eclampsia were also markedly down-regulated. Interestingly, the relaxation ability of ICA-27243 in pre-contracted CPA vessels in women with pre-eclampsia was enhanced. The mRNA of KCNQ3 was specifically up-regulated, whereas those for KCNQ4 and KCNQ5 were down-regulated in CPAs from women with pre-eclampsia compared with those in normotensive women. Similar observations were found in a subsequent analysis of protein expression of KCNQ genes 3-5. Thus, down-regulated Kv7 channel function in tension regulation of CPAs in women with pre-eclampsia could be associated with considerably altered expression profiles of Kv7 subunits.
Project description:Activity-dependent changes in the properties of the motor system underlie the necessary adjustments in its responsiveness on the basis of the environmental and developmental demands of the organism. Although plastic changes in the properties of the spinal cord have historically been neglected because of the archaic belief that the spinal cord is constituted by a hardwired network that simply relays information to muscles, plenty of evidence has been accumulated showing that synapses impinging on spinal motoneurons undergo short- and long-term plasticity. In the brain, brief changes in the activity level of the network have been shown to be paralleled by changes in the intrinsic excitability of the neurons and are suggested to either reinforce or stabilize the changes at the synaptic level. However, rapid activity-dependent changes in the intrinsic properties of spinal motoneurons have never been reported. In this study, we show that in neonatal mice the intrinsic excitability of spinal motoneurons is depressed after relatively brief but sustained changes in the spinal cord network activity. Using electrophysiological techniques together with specific pharmacological blockers of KCNQ/Kv7 channels, we demonstrate their involvement in the reduction of the intrinsic excitability of spinal motoneurons. This action results from an increased M-current, the product of the activation of KCNQ/Kv7 channels, which leads to a hyperpolarization of the resting membrane potential and a decrease in the input resistance of spinal motoneurons. Computer simulations showed that specific up-regulations in KCNQ/Kv7 channels functions lead to a modulation of the intrinsic excitability of spinal motoneurons as observed experimentally. These results indicate that KCNQ/Kv7 channels play a fundamental role in the activity-dependent modulation of the excitability of spinal motoneurons.
Project description:Microglia are essential to maintain cell homeostasis in the healthy brain and are activated after brain injury. Upon activation, microglia polarize towards different phenotypes. The course of microglia activation is complex and depends on signals in the surrounding milieu. Recently, it has been suggested that microglia respond to ion currents, as a way of regulating their activity and function. Under the hypothesis that HCN and KCNQ/Kv7 channels impact on microglia, we studied primary rat microglia in the presence or absence of specific pharmacological blockade or RNA silencing. Primary microglia expressed the subunits HCN1-4, Kv7.2, Kv7.3, and Kv7.5. The expression of HCN2, as well as Kv7.2 and Kv7.3, varied among different microglia phenotypes. The pharmacological blockade of HCN channels by ZD7288 resulted in cell depolarization with slowly rising intracellular calcium levels, leading to enhanced survival and reduced proliferation rates of resting microglia. Furthermore, ZD7288 treatment, as well as knockdown of HCN2 RNA by small interfering RNA, resulted in an attenuation of later microglia activation-both towards the anti- and pro-inflammatory phenotype. However, HCN channel inhibition enhanced the phagocytic capacity of IL4-stimulated microglia. Blockade of Kv7/KCNQ channel by XE-991 exclusively inhibited the migratory capacity of resting microglia. These observations suggest that the HCN current contributes to various microglia functions and impacts on the course of microglia activation, while the Kv7/KCNQ channels affect microglia migration. Characterizing the role of HCN channels in microglial functioning may offer new therapeutic approaches for targeted modulation of neuroinflammation as a hallmark of various neurological disorders.
Project description:Intense inflammatory pain caused by urate crystals in joints and other tissues is a major symptom of gout. Among therapy drugs that lower urate, benzbromarone (BBR), an inhibitor of urate transporters, is widely used because it is well tolerated and highly effective. We demonstrate that BBR is also an activator of voltage-gated KCNQ potassium channels. In cultured recombinant cells, BBR exhibited significant potentiation effects on KCNQ channels comparable to previously reported classical activators. In native dorsal root ganglion neurons, BBR effectively overcame the suppression of KCNQ currents, and the resultant neuronal hyperexcitability caused by inflammatory mediators, such as bradykinin (BK). Benzbromarone consistently attenuates BK-, formalin-, or monosodium urate-induced inflammatory pain in rat and mouse models. Notably, the analgesic effects of BBR are largely mediated through peripheral and not through central KCNQ channels, an observation supported both by pharmacokinetic studies and in vivo experiments. Moreover, multiple residues in the superficial part of the voltage sensing domain of KCNQ channels were identified critical for the potentiation activity of BBR by a molecular determinant investigation. Our data indicate that activation of peripheral KCNQ channels mediates the pain relief effects of BBR, potentially providing a new strategy for the development of more effective therapies for gout.
Project description:Voltage-gated potassium channels of the KCNQ (Kv7) subfamily are essential for control of cellular excitability and repolarization in a wide range of cell types. Recently, we and others found that some KCNQ channels functionally and physically interact with sodium-dependent solute transporters, including myo-inositol transporters SMIT1 and SMIT2, potentially facilitating various modes of channel-transporter signal integration. In contrast to indirect effects such as channel regulation by SMIT-transported, myo-inositol-derived phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP<sub>2</sub>), the mechanisms and functional consequences of the physical interaction of channels with transporters have been little studied. Here, using co-immunoprecipitation with different channel domains, we found that SMIT1 binds to the KCNQ2 pore module. We next tested the effects of SMIT1 co-expression, in the absence of extracellular myo-inositol or other SMIT1 substrates, on fundamental functional attributes of KCNQ2, KCNQ2/3, KCNQ1, and KCNQ1-KCNE1 channels. Without exception, SMIT1 altered KCNQ ion selectivity, sensitivity to extracellular K<sup>+</sup>, and pharmacology, consistent with an impact on conformation of the KCNQ pore. SMIT1 also altered the gating kinetics and/or voltage dependence of KCNQ2, KCNQ2/3, and KCNQ1-KCNE1. In contrast, SMIT1 had no effect on Kv1.1 (KCNA1) gating, ion selectivity, or pharmacology. We conclude that, independent of its transport activity and indirect regulatory mechanisms involving inositol-derived increases in PIP<sub>2</sub>, SMIT1, and likely other related sodium-dependent solute transporters, regulates KCNQ channel ion selectivity, gating, and pharmacology by direct physical interaction with the pore module.
Project description:Epilepsy is caused by an electrical hyperexcitability in the CNS. Because K+ channels are critical for establishing and stabilizing the resting potential of neurons, a loss of K+ channels could support neuronal hyperexcitability. Indeed, benign familial neonatal convulsions, an autosomal dominant epilepsy of infancy, is caused by mutations in KCNQ2 or KCNQ3 K+ channel genes. Because these channels contribute to the native muscarinic-sensitive K+ current (M current) that regulates excitability of numerous types of neurons, KCNQ (Kv7) channel activators would be effective in epilepsy treatment. A compound exhibiting anticonvulsant activity in animal seizure models is retigabine. It specifically acts on the neuronally expressed KCNQ2-KCNQ5 (Kv7.2-Kv7.5) channels, whereas KCNQ1 (Kv7.1) is not affected. Using the differential sensitivity of KCNQ3 and KCNQ1 to retigabine, we constructed chimeras to identify minimal segments required for sensitivity to the drug. We identified a single tryptophan residue within the S5 segment of KCNQ3 and also KCNQ2, KCNQ4, and KCNQ5 as crucial for the effect of retigabine. Furthermore, heteromeric KCNQ channels comprising KCNQ2 and KCNQ1 transmembrane domains (attributable to transfer of assembly properties from KCNQ3 to KCNQ1) are retigabine insensitive. Transfer of the tryptophan into the KCNQ1 scaffold resulted in retigabine-sensitive heteromers, suggesting that the tryptophan is necessary in all KCNQ subunits forming a functional tetramer to confer drug sensitivity.