The Journal of physiology

Alternative splicing determines mRNA translation initiation and function of human K(2P)10.1 K+ channels.

PMID 21669980


Potassium-selective ion channels regulate cardiac and neuronal excitability by stabilizing the resting membrane potential and by modulating shape and frequency of action potentials. The delicate control of membrane voltage requires structural and functional diversity of K+ channel subunits expressed in a given cell. Here we reveal a previously unrecognized biological mechanism. Tissue-specific mRNA splicing regulates alternative translation initiation (ATI) of human K(2P)10.1 K+ background channels via recombination of 5 nucleotide motifs. ATI-dependent expression of full-length protein or truncated subunits initiated from two downstream start codons determines macroscopic current amplitudes and biophysical properties of hK(2P)10.1 channels. The interaction between hK(2P)10.1 mRNA splicing, translation and function increases K+ channel complexity and is expected to contribute to electrophysiological plasticity of excitable cells.