Modulation of voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channel surface expression can profoundly affect neuronal excitability. Some, but not all, mammalian Shaker or Kv1 α subunits contain a dominant endoplasmic reticulum (ER) retention signal in their pore region, preventing surface expression of Kv1.1 homotetrameric channels and of heteromeric Kv1 channels containing more than one Kv1.1 subunit. The critical amino acid residues within this ER pore-region retention signal are also critical for high-affinity binding of snake dendrotoxins (DTX). This suggests that ER retention may be mediated by an ER protein with a domain structurally similar to that of DTX. One facet of such a model is that expression of soluble DTX in the ER lumen should compete for binding to the retention protein and allow for surface expression of retained Kv1.1. Here, we show that luminal DTX expression dramatically increased both the level of cell surface Kv1.1 immunofluorescence staining and the proportion of Kv1.1 with processed N-linked oligosaccharides. Electrophysiological analyses showed that luminal DTX expression led to significant increases in Kv1.1 currents. Together, these data showed that luminal DTX expression increases surface expression of functional Kv1.1 homotetrameric channels and support a model whereby a DTX-like ER protein regulates abundance of cell surface Kv1 channels.
- Endoplasmic reticulum
- Potassium channel