K(ATP) channels are unique in requiring two distinct subunits (Kir6.2, a potassium channel subunit) and SUR1 (an ABC protein) for generation of functional channels. To examine the cellular trafficking of K(ATP) channel subunits, green fluorescent protein (GFP) was tagged to the cytoplasmic N or C terminus of SUR1 and Kir6.2 subunits and to the C terminus of a dimeric fusion between SUR1 and Kir6.2 (SUR1-Kir6.2). All tagged constructs generated functional channels with essentially normal properties when coexpressed with the relevant other subunit. GFP-tagged Kir6.2 (Kir6.2-GFP) showed perinuclear and plasma membrane fluorescence patterns when expressed alone or with SUR1, and a very similar pattern was observed when channel-forming SUR1-Kir6.2-GFP was expressed on its own. In contrast, whereas SUR1 (SUR1-GFP) also showed a perinuclear and plasma membrane fluorescence pattern when expressed alone, an apparently cytoplasmic fluorescence was observed when coexpressed with Kir6.2 subunits. The results indicate that Kir6.2 subunits traffic to the plasma membrane in the presence or absence of SUR1, in contradiction to the hypothesis that homomeric Kir6.2 channels are not observed because SUR1 is required as a chaperone to guide Kir6.2 subunits through the secretory pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3369-3374
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 6 1998


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