The Journal of general physiology

Slob, a Slowpoke channel-binding protein, modulates synaptic transmission.

PMID 21282401


Modulation of ion channels by regulatory proteins within the same macromolecular complex is a well-accepted concept, but the physiological consequences of such modulation are not fully understood. Slowpoke (Slo), a potassium channel critical for action potential repolarization and transmitter release, is regulated by Slo channel-binding protein (Slob), a Drosophila melanogaster Slo (dSlo) binding partner. Slob modulates the voltage dependence of dSlo channel activation in vitro and exerts similar effects on the dSlo channel in Drosophila central nervous system neurons in vivo. In addition, Slob modulates action potential duration in these neurons. Here, we investigate further the functional consequences of the modulation of the dSlo channel by Slob in vivo, by examining larval neuromuscular synaptic transmission in flies in which Slob levels have been altered. In Slob-null flies generated through P-element mutagenesis, as well as in Slob knockdown flies generated by RNA interference (RNAi), we find an enhancement of synaptic transmission but no change in the properties of the postsynaptic muscle cell. Using targeted transgenic rescue and targeted expression of Slob-RNAi, we find that Slob expression in neurons (but not in the postsynaptic muscle cell) is critical for its effects on synaptic transmission. Furthermore, inhibition of dSlo channel activity abolishes these effects of Slob. These results suggest that presynaptic Slob, by regulating dSlo channel function, participates in the modulation of synaptic transmission.