Direct activation of mammalian atrial muscarinic potassium channels by GTP regulatory protein Gk

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Science  09 Jan 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4785, pp. 207-211
DOI: 10.1126/science.2432660


The mammalian heart rate is regulated by the vagus nerve, which acts via muscarinic acetylcholine receptors to cause hyperpolarization of atrial pacemaker cells. The hyperpolarization is produced by the opening of potassium channels and involves an intermediary guanosine triphosphate-binding regulatory (G) protein. Potassium channels in isolated, inside-out patches of membranes from atrial cells now are shown to be activated by a purified pertussis toxin-sensitive G protein of subunit composition alpha beta gamma, with an alpha subunit of 40,000 daltons. Thus, mammalian atrial muscarinic potassium channels are activated directly by a G protein, not indirectly through a cascade of intermediary events. The G protein regulating these channels is identified as a potent Gk; it is active at 0.2 to 1 pM. Thus, proteins other than enzymes can be under control of receptor coupling G proteins.