A novel type of depolarization-activated K+ current in isolated adult rat atrial myocytes

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To determine the types of voltage-gated K+ channels controlling action potential repolarization in atrial cells, we have characterized the properties of depolarization-activated K+ channels in isolated adult rat atrial myocytes using the whole cell patch-clamp recording technique. On membrane depolarization, Ca2+-independent outward K+ currents in these cells begin to activate at approximately -40 mV. At all test potentials, the currents activate rapidly after a delay, and there is little or no decay of the peak outward current amplitude during brief (100 ms) depolarizations. In addition, the currents show little steady-state inactivation at membrane potentials negative to -60 mV. The currents are blocked effectively by 1-5 mM 4-aminopyridine but are relatively insensitive to extracellular tetraethylammonium at concentrations up to 50 mM. Based on the measured time- and voltage-dependent properties and the pharmacological sensitivity of the currents, we suggest that the depolarization-activated K+ channels underlying the macroscopic currents in adult rat atrial myocytes are distinct from those described previously in other myocardial preparations, including adult rat ventricular myocytes. Interestingly, the outward K+ currents characterized here in isolated adult rat atrial myocytes are remarkably similar to those of several recently described ''delayed rectifier'' K+ channel genes isolated from rat brain cDNA libraries and expressed in Xenopus oocytes, suggesting that similar K+ currents are likely present in cells of the mammalian central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H1236-H1247
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4 29/4
StatePublished - May 13 1991


  • 4-Aminopyridine-sensitive potassium currents
  • Cardiac potassium channels
  • Cloned potassium channels
  • Delayed rectifier potassium currents
  • Tetraethylammonium-insensitive potassium currents

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