Background & aims: Gastric H+ secretion via the H+/K+-adenosine triphosphatase is coupled to the uptake of K+. However, the molecular identity of luminal K+ channels enabling K+ recycling in parietal cells is unknown. This study was aimed to investigate these luminal K+ channels.
Methods: Acid secretion was measured in vivo and in vitro; KCNQ1 protein localization was assessed by immunofluorescence, and acid-sensitivity of KCNQ1 by patch-clamp.
Results: We identified KCNQ1, which is mutated in cardiac long QT syndrome, as a K+ channel located in tubulovesicles and apical membrane of parietal cells, where it colocalized with H+/K+-adenosine triphosphatase. Blockade of KCNQ1 current by 293B led to complete inhibition of acid secretion. The putative KCNQ1 subunits, KCNE2 and KCNE3, were abundant in human stomach; KCNE1, however, was absent. Coexpression of KCNE3/KCNQ1 in COS cells led to an acid-insensitive current; KCNE2/KCNQ1 was activated by low extracellular pH.
Conclusions: We identified KCNQ1 as the missing luminal K+ channel in parietal cells and characterized its crucial role in acid secretion. Because KCNE3 and KCNE2 are expressed in human stomach, one or both are candidates to coassemble with KCNQ1 in parietal cells. Thus, stomach- and subunit-specific inhibitors of KCNQ1 might offer new therapeutical perspectives for peptic ulcer disease.