Potassium channels are essential for a variety of cellular processes ranging from membrane excitability to cellular proliferation. The KCNE genes (KCNE1-5) encode a family of single-transmembrane-domain proteins that modulate the properties of several potassium channels, suggesting a physiologic role for these accessory subunits in many human tissues. To investigate the expression and transcriptional control of KCNE genes we mapped transcription start sites, delineated 5′ genomic structure, and characterized functional promoter elements for each gene. We identified alternatively spliced transcripts for both KCNE1 and KCNE3, including a cardiac-specific KCNE1 transcript. Analysis of relative expression levels of KCNE1-5 in a panel of human tissues revealed distinct, but overlapping, expression patterns. The coexpression of multiple functionally distinct KCNE genes in some tissues infers complex accessory subunit modification of potassium channels. Identification of the core promoter elements necessary for transcriptional control of the KCNE genes facilitates future work investigating factors responsible for tissue-specific expression as well as the discovery of promoter variants associated with disease.
- Potassium channel
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