The alpha subunit of the GTP binding protein activates muscarinic potassium channels of the atrium

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Science  24 Jun 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4860, pp. 1782-1783
DOI: 10.1126/science.2454511


It has been debated whether the potassium channel of the atrium is activated by the alpha subunit or by the beta gamma subunits of guanine nucleotide binding (G) proteins, which dissociate on activation with guanosine triphosphate (GTP). Therefore, the channel-activating effectiveness of these subunits on isolated guinea pig atrial cells was tested. The activated alpha K subunit from human erythrocytes activated the channel in subpicomolar concentrations. The beta gamma dimer from bovine brain activated the channel in nanomolar concentrations. These results support the view that, physiologically, the alpha subunit activates the channel.