Interactions between β subunits of the KCNMB family and Slo3: β4 selectively modulates Slo3 expression and function

Cheng Tao Yang, Xu Hui Zeng, Xiao Ming Xia, Christopher J. Lingle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: The pH and voltage-regulated Slo3 K+ channel, a homologue of the Ca2+- and voltage-regulated Slo1 K+ channel, is thought to be primarily expressed in sperm, but the properties of Slo3 studied in heterologous systems differ somewhat from the native sperm KSper pH-regulated current. There is the possibility that critical partners that regulate Slo3 function remain unidentified. The extensive amino acid identity between Slo3 and Slo1 suggests that auxiliary β subunits regulating Slo1 channels might coassemble with and modulate Slo3 channels. Four distinct β subunits composing the KCNMB family are known to regulate the function and expression of Slo1 Channels. Methodology/Principal Findings: To examine the ability of the KCNMB family of auxiliary β subunits to regulate Slo3 function, we co-expressed Slo3 and each β subunit in heterologous expression systems and investigated the functional consequences by electrophysiological and biochemical analyses. The β4 subunit produced an 8-10 fold enhancement of Slo3 current expression in Xenopus oocytes and a similar enhancement of Slo3 surface expression as monitored by YFP-tagged Slo3 or biotin labeled Slo3. Neither β1, β2, nor β3 mimicked the ability of β4 to increase surface expression, although biochemical tests suggested that all four β subunits are competent to coassemble with Slo3. Fluorescence microscopy from β4 KO mice, in which an eGFP tag replaced the deleted exon, revealed that β4 gene promoter is active in spermatocytes. Furthermore, quantitative RT-PCR demonstrated that β4 and Slo3 exhibit comparable mRNA abundance in both testes and sperm. Conclusions/Significance: These results argue that, for native mouse Slo3 channels, the β4 subunit must be considered as a potential interaction partner and, furthermore, that KCNMB subunits may have functions unrelated to regulation of the Slo1 α subunit.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6135
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 3 2009


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