Stretch-activated single K+ channels account for whole-cell currents elicited by swelling

Carlos G. Vanoye, Luis Reuss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Functionally significant stretch-activated ion channels have been clearly identified in excitable cells. Although single-channel studies suggest their expression in other cell types, their activity in the whole- cell configuration has not been shown. This discrepancy makes their physiological significance doubtful and suggests that their mechanical activation is artifactual. Possible roles for these molecules in nonexcitable cells are acute cell-volume regulation and, in epithelial cells, the complex adjustment of ion fluxes across individual cell membranes when the rate of transepithelial transport changes. We report the results of experiments on isolated epithelial cells expressing in the basolateral membrane stretch- activated K+ channels demonstrable by the cell-attached patch-clamp technique. In these cells, reversible whole-cell currents were elicited by both isosmotic and hyposmotic cell swelling. Cation selectivity and block by inorganic agents were the same for single-channel and whole-cell currents, indicating that the same entity underlies single-channel and whole-cell currents and that the single-channel events are not artifactual. In these cells, when the rate of apical-membrane NaCl entry increases, the cell Na+ content and volume also increase, stimulating the Na+,K+-ATPase at the basolateral membrane, i.e., both Na+ extrusion and K+ uptake increase. We speculate that, under these conditions, the parallel activation of basolateral K+ channels (by the swelling) elevates conductive K+ loss, tending to maintain the cell K+ content constant ('pump-leak parallelism'). This study describes a physiologically relevant stretch-activated channel, at both the single-channel and whole-cell levels, in a nonneural cell type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6511-6516
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
StatePublished - May 25 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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