1. To clarify the nature of the inhibition of whole‐cell inwardly rectifying K+ current (IK1) by isoprenaline (Iso) and its antagonism by acetylcholine (ACh), we studied the effects of Iso and ACh and their surrogates on single channel currents (iK1) carried by inwardly rectifying K+ channels in cell‐attached and excised inside‐out patches obtained from guinea‐pig ventricular myocytes. 2. Bath application of Iso suppressed iK1 channel activity in cell‐attached patches. This was inhibited by propranolol. Bath‐applied forskolin or dibutyryl cAMP mimicked the effect of bath‐applied Iso. 3. Exposure of the cytosolic face of inside‐out patches to purified catalytic subunit of the cAMP‐dependent protein kinase (PKA) also suppressed iK1 channel activity, mimicking the effect of bath‐applied Iso on iK1 recorded from cell‐attached patches. 4. When applied directly to cell‐attached patches via the patch pipette solution, ACh antagonized Iso‐induced (1 microM applied via the bath) suppression of iK1 channels. In contrast, bath‐applied ACh (10 microM) partially antagonized the effect of low concentrations of Iso (e.g. < 50 nM) on iK1 channels in cell‐attached patches but had no detectable effect when 1 microM or more Iso was used. 5. In myocytes pretreated with pertussis toxin (PTX), ACh failed to antagonize Iso‐induced suppression of iK1 channels. When inside‐out patches were used, bath‐applied preactivated exogenous inhibitory G protein subunit, G1 alpha, antagonized the suppression of iK1 channels induced by bath‐applied catalytic subunit of PKA (PKA‐CS), suggesting that a PTX‐sensitive G1 alpha mediates ACh‐induced antagonism of Iso‐induced suppression of iK1. 6. Neither GTP gamma S nor G1 alpha antagonized the suppression of iK1 produced by bath‐applied PKA‐CS in inside‐out patches when okadaic acid was present in the bath. In addition, bath application of alkaline phosphatase also reactivated iK1 channels suppressed by PKA‐CS. 7. Findings in guinea‐pig ventricular myocytes suggest that iK1 can be suppressed by a PKA‐mediated phosphorylation of the iK1 channel occurring in response to Iso‐induced beta‐adrenergic receptor activation and that ACh can antagonize the suppression by mechanisms that involve both intracellular and membrane‐delimited pathways. The membrane‐delimited pathway appears to involve M2‐cholinergic receptors, their associated G protein, G1, and a protein phosphatase, all located in the sarcolemma in close proximity to the involved iK1 channels.
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