Two different approaches were used to examine the in vivo role of polyamines in causing inward rectification of potassium channels. In two- microelectrode voltage-clamp experiments, 24-hr incubation of Xenopus oocytes injected with 50 nl of difluoromethylornithine (5 mM) and methylglyoxal bis(guanylhydrazone) (1 mM) caused an approximate doubling of expressed Kir2.1 currents and relieved rectification by causing an approximately +10- mV shift of the voltage at which currents are half-maximally inhibited. Second, a putrescine auxotrophic, ornithine decarboxylase-deficient Chinese hamster ovary (O-CHO) cell line was stably transfected with the cDNA encoding Kir2.3. Withdrawal of putrescine from the medium led to rapid (1-day) loss of the instantaneous phase of Kir2.3 channel activation, consistent with a decline of intracellular putrescine levels. Four days after putrescine withdrawal, macroscopic conductance, assessed using an 86Rb+ flux assay, was approximately doubled, and this corresponded to a +30-mV shift of V( 1/4 ) of rectification. With increasing time after putrescine withdrawal, there was an increase in the slowest phase of current activation, corresponding to an increase in the spermine-to-spermidine ratio over time. These results provide direct evidence for a role of each polyamine in induction of rectification, and they further demonstrate that in vivo modulation of rectification is possible by manipulation of polyamine levels using genetic and pharmacological approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12014-12019
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - Oct 15 1996


  • K current
  • ornithine decarboxylase
  • putrescine
  • spermidine
  • spermine


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