Shal (Kv4) α-subunits are the most conserved among the family of voltage-gated potassium channels. Previous work has shown that the Shal potassium channel subfamily underlies the predominant fast transient outward current in Drosophila neurons (Tsunoda, S., and Salkoff, L. (1995) J. Neurosci. 15, 1741-1754) and the fast transient outward current in mouse heart muscle (Guo, W., Jung, W. E., Marionneau, C., Aimond, F., Xu, H., Yamada, K. A., Schwarz, T. L., Demolombe, S., and Nerbonne, J. M. (2005) Circ. Res. 97, 1342-1350). We show that Shal channels also play a role as the predominant transient outward current in Caenorhabditis elegans muscle. Green fluorescent protein promoter experiments also revealed SHL-1 expression in a subset of neurons as well as in C. elegans body wall muscle and in male-specific diagonal muscles. The shl-1 (ok1168) null mutant removed all fast transient outward current from muscle cells. SHL-1 currents strongly resembled Shal currents in other species except that they were active in a more depolarized voltage range. We also determined that the remaining delayed-rectifier current in cultured myocytes was carried by the Shaker ortholog SHK-1. In shl-1 (ok1168) mutants there was a significant compensatory increase in the SHK-1 current. Male shl-1 (ok1168) animals exhibited reduced mating efficiency resulting from an apparent difficulty in locating the hermaphrodite vulva. SHL-1 channels are apparently important in fine-tuning complex behaviors, such as mating, that play a crucial role in the survival and propagation of the species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30725-30735
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 13 2006


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