Potential molecular basis of different physiological properties of the transient outward K+ current in rabbit and human atrial myocytes

Zhiguo Wang, Jianlin Feng, Hong Shi, Amber Pond, Jeanne M. Nerbonne, Stanley Nattel

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The properties of the transient outward current (I(to)) differ between rabbit and human atrial myocytes. In particular, rabbit I(to) is known to recover more slowly than its human counterpart and to show much more frequency dependence. To assess the possibility that these physiological differences may reflect differing expression of K+ channel subunit gene products, we used a combination of whole-cell voltage-clamp, heterologous expression, pharmacological, antisense, and Western blot techniques. The inactivation of I(to) in rabbit atrial myocytes was significantly slowed by hydrogen peroxide, with human I(to) being unaffected. Use-dependent unblocking with 4-aminopyridine was not seen for rabbit I(to) nor for Kv1.4 currents in Xenopus oocytes, whereas human I(to) showed strong use-dependent unblock (as did Kv4 currents). Western blots indicated the presence of Kv4 proteins in both human and rabbit atrial membranes, but Kv1.4 was only detected in the rabbit. Antisense oligodeoxynucleotides directed against Kv4.3, Kv4.2, or Kv1.4 subunit sequences significantly inhibited I(to) current density in cultured rabbit atrial myocytes, whereas only Kv4.3 antisense significantly inhibited I(to) in human cells. Neither mismatch oligodeoxynucleotides nor vehicle altered currents in either species. We conclude that, unlike human atrial myocytes, rabbit atrial myocytes express Kv1.4 channel subunits, which likely contribute to a number of important physiological differences in I(to) properties between the species. To our knowledge, these studies constitute the first demonstration of a functional role for Kv1.4 channels in cardiac membranes and provide insights into the molecular mechanisms of an important cardiac repolarizing current.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-561
Number of pages11
JournalCirculation research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 19 1999


  • Action potential
  • Antiarrhythmic drug
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Electrophysiology


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