Potassium channels have evolved to play specialized roles in both excitable and inexcitable tissues. Here we describe the cloning and expression of Slo3, a novel potassium channel abundantly expressed in mammalian spermatocytes. Slo3 represents a new and unique type of potassium channel regulated by both intracellular pH and membrane voltage. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, Northern analysis, and in situ hybridization show that Slo3 is primarily expressed in testis in both mouse and human. Because of its sensitivity to both pH and voltage, Slo3 could be involved in sperm capacitation and/or the acrosome reaction, essential steps in fertilization where changes in both intracellular pH and membrane potential are known to occur. The protein sequence of mSlo3 (the mouse Slo3 homologue) is similar to Slo1, the large conductance, calcium- and voltage- gated potassium channel. These results suggest that Slo channels comprise a multigene family, defined by a combination of sensitivity to voltage and a variety of intracellular factors. Northern analysis from human testis indicates that a Slo3 homologue is present in humans and conserved with regard to sequence, transcript size, and tissue distribution. Because of its high testis-specific expression, pharmacological agents that target human Slo3 channels may be useful in both the study of fertilization as well as in the control or enhancement of fertility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3509-3516
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 6 1998


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