Diclofenac distinguishes among homomeric and heteromeric potassium channels composed of KCNQ4 and KCNQ5 subunits

Lioubov I. Brueggemann, Alexander R. Mackie, Jody L. Martin, Leanne L. Cribbs, Kenneth L. Byron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


KCNQ4 and KCNQ5 potassium channel subunits are expressed in vascular smooth muscle cells, although it remains uncertain how these subunits assemble to form functional channels. Using patch-clamp techniques, we compared the electrophysiological characteristics and effects of diclofenac, a known KCNQ channel activator, on human KCNQ4 and KCNQ5 channels expressed individually or together in A7r5 rat aortic smooth muscle cells. The conductance curves of the overexpressed channels were fitted by a single Boltzmann function in each case (V 0.5 values: -31, -44, and -38 mV for KCNQ4, KCNQ5, and KCNQ4/5, respectively). Diclofenac (100 μM) inhibited KCNQ5 channels, reducing maximum conductance by 53%, but increased maximum conductance of KCNQ4 channels by 38%. The opposite effects of diclofenac on KCNQ4 and KCNQ5 could not be attributed to the presence of a basic residue (lysine) in the voltage-sensing domain of KCNQ5, because mutation of this residue to neutral glycine (the residue present in KCNQ4) resulted in a more effective block of the channel. Differences in deactivation rates and distinct voltage-dependent effects of diclofenac on channel activation and deactivation observed with each of the subunit combinations (KCNQ4, KCNQ5, and KCNQ4/5) were used as diagnostic tools to evaluate native KCNQ currents in vascular smooth muscle cells. A7r5 cells express only KCNQ5 channels endogenously, and their responses to diclofenac closely resembled those of the overexpressed KCNQ5 currents. In contrast, mesenteric artery myocytes, which express both KCNQ4 and KCNQ5 channels, displayed whole-cell KCNQ currents with properties and diclofenac responses characteristic of overexpressed heteromeric KCNQ4/5 channels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-23
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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