Stress in the lipids of the cell membrane may be responsible for activating stretch-activated channels (SACs) in nonspecialized sensory cells such as cardiac myocytes, where they are likely to play a role in cardiac mechanoelectric feedback. We examined the influence of the mechanical microenvironment on the gating of stretch-activated potassium channels (SAKCs) in rat atrial myocytes. The goal was to examine the role of the cytoskeleton in the gating process. We recorded from blebs that have minimal cytoskeleton and cells treated with cytochalasin B (cyto-B) to disrupt filamentous actin. Histochemical and electron microscopic techniques confirmed that the bleb membrane was largely free of F-actin. Channel currents showed mechanosensitivity and potassium selectivity and were activated by low pH and arachidonic acid, similar to properties of TREK-1. Some patches showed a time-dependent decrease in current that may be adaptation or inactivation, and since this decrease appeared in control cells and blebs, it is probably not the result of adaptation in the cytoskeleton. Cyto-B treatment and blebbing caused an increase in background channel activity, suggesting a transfer of stress from actin to bilayer and then to the channel. The slope sensitivity of gating before and after cyto-B treatment was similar to that of blebs, implying the characteristic change of dimensions associated with channel gating was the same in the three mechanical environments. The mechanosensitivity of SAKCs appears to be the result of interaction with membrane lipids and not of direct involvement of the cytoskeleton.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 18, 2008
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