Previous studies have reported the up-regulation of the two-pore domain K+ channel K2P5.1 in the CD4+ T cells of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), as well as in a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, the mechanisms underlying this up-regulation remain unclear. Inflammation-associated hypoxia is involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, such as IBD, MS, and RA, and T cells are exposed to a hypoxic environment during their recruitment from inflamed tissues to secondary lymphoid tissues. We herein investigated whether inflammation-associated hypoxia is attributable to the increased expression and activity of K2P5.1 in the splenic CD4+ T cells of chemically-induced IBD model mice. Significant increases in hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α transcripts and proteins were found in the splenic CD4+ T cells of the IBD model. In the activated splenic CD4+ T cells, hypoxia (1.5% O2) increased K2P5.1 expression and activity, whereas a treatment with the HIF inhibitor FM19G11 but not the selective HIF-2 inhibitor exerted the opposite effect. Hypoxia-exposed K2P5.1 up-regulation was also detected in stimulated thymocytes and the mouse T-cell line. The class III histone deacetylase sirtuin-1 (SIRT1) is a downstream molecule of HIF-1α signaling. We examined the effects of the SIRT1 inhibitor NCO-01 on K2P5.1 transcription in activated CD4+ T cells, and we found no significant effects on the K2P5.1 transcription. No acute compensatory responses of K2P3.1-K2P5.1 up-regulation were found in the CD4+ T cells of the IBD model and the hypoxia-exposed T cells. Collectively, these results suggest a mechanism for K2P5.1 up-regulation via HIF-1 in the CD4+ T cells of the IBD model.
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