Cardiac small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (SK) channels are activated solely by Ca2+, but the SK current (ISK) is inwardly rectified. However, the impact of inward rectification in shaping action potentials (APs) in ventricular cardiomyocytes under β-adrenergic stimulation or in disease states remains undefined. Two processes underlie this inward rectification: an intrinsic rectification caused by an electrostatic energy barrier from positively charged amino acids at the inner pore and a voltage-dependent Ca2+/Mg2+ block. Thus, Ca2+ has a biphasic effect on ISK, activating at low [Ca2+] yet inhibiting ISK at high [Ca2+]. We examined the effect of ISK rectification on APs in rat cardiomyocytes by simultaneously recording whole-cell apamin-sensitive currents and Ca2+ transients during an AP waveform and developed a computer model of SK channels with rectification features. The typical profile of ISK during AP clamp included an initial peak (mean 1.6 pA/pF) followed by decay to the point that submembrane [Ca2+] reached ∼10 μM. During the rest of the AP stimulus, ISK either plateaued or gradually increased as the cell repolarized and submembrane [Ca2+] decreased further. We used a six-state gating model combined with intrinsic and Ca2+/Mg2+-dependent rectification to simulate ISK and investigated the relative contributions of each type of rectification to AP shape. This SK channel model replicates key features of ISK recording during AP clamp showing that intrinsic rectification limits ISK at high Vm during the early and plateau phase of APs. Furthermore, the initial rise of Ca2+ transients activates, but higher [Ca2+] blocks SK channels, yielding a transient outward-like ISK trajectory. During the decay phase of Ca2+, the Ca2+-dependent block is released, causing ISK to rise again and contribute to repolarization. Therefore, ISK is an important repolarizing current, and the rectification characteristics of an SK channel determine its impact on early, plateau, and repolarization phases of APs.
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article