Abstract

To understand the molecular mechanisms responsible for generating physiologically diverse potassium channels in mammalian cells, mouse genomic clones have been isolated with a potassium channel complementary DNA, MBK1, that is homologous to the Drosophila potassium channel gene, Shaker. A family of three closely related potassium channel genes (MK1, MK2, and MK3) that are encoded at distinct genomic loci has been isolated. Sequence analysis reveals that the coding region of each of these three genes exists as a single uninterrupted exon in the mouse genome. This organization precludes the generation of multiple forms of the protein by alternative RNA splicing, a mechanism known to characterize the Drosophila potassium channel genes Shaker and Shab. Thus, mammals may use a different strategy for generating diverse K+ channels by encoding related genes at multiple distinct genomic loci, each of which produces only a single protein.

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