Mutants of a temperature-sensitive two-P domain potassium channel

M. T. Kunkel, D. B. Johnstone, J. H. Thomas, L. Salkoff

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Within the Caenorhabditis elegans genome there exist at least 42 genes encoding TWK (two-P domain K+) channels, potassium channel subunits that contain two pore regions and four transmembrane domains. We now report the first functional characterization of a TWK channel from C. elegans. Although potassium channels have been reported to be activated by a variety of factors, TWK-18 currents increase dramatically with increases in temperature. Two mutant alleles of the TWK-18 gene confer uncoordinated movement and paralysis in C. elegans. Expression of wild-type and mutant TWK-18 channels in Xenopus oocytes showed that mutant channels express much larger potassium currents than wild-type channels. Promoter-green fluorescent protein fusion experiments indicate that TWK-18 is expressed in body wall muscle. Our genetic and physiological data suggest that the movement defects observed in mutant twk-18 animals may be explained by an increased activity of the mutant TWK-18 channels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7517-7524
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 2000


  • C. elegans
  • KCNK
  • Mah-2
  • Mutant
  • Potassium channel
  • TASK
  • TREK
  • TWIK
  • Temperature
  • Unc-110
  • Uncoordinated


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