Distribution of the Muscarinic K+ Channel Proteins Kir3.1 and Kir3.4 in the Ventricle, Atrium, and Sinoatrial Node of Heart

J Histochem Cytochem. 2001 Oct;49(10):1221-34. doi: 10.1177/002215540104901004.


The functionally important effects on the heart of ACh released from vagal nerves are principally mediated by the muscarinic K+ channel. The aim of this study was to determine the abundance and cellular location of the muscarinic K+ channel subunits Kir3.1 and Kir3.4 in different regions of heart. Western blotting showed a very low abundance of Kir3.1 in rat ventricle, although Kir3.1 was undetectable in guinea pig and ferret ventricle. Although immunofluorescence on tissue sections showed no labeling of Kir3.1 in rat, guinea pig, and ferret ventricle and Kir3.4 in rat ventricle, immunofluorescence on single ventricular cells from rat showed labeling in t-tubules of both Kir3.1 and Kir3.4. Kir3.1 was abundant in the atrium of the three species, as shown by Western blotting and immunofluorescence, and Kir3.4 was abundant in the atrium of rat, as shown by immunofluorescence. Immunofluorescence showed Kir3.1 expression in SA node from the three species and Kir3.4 expression in the SA node from rat. The muscarinic K+ channel is activated by ACh via the m2 muscarinic receptor and, in atrium and SA node from ferret, Kir3.1 labeling was co-localized with m2 muscarinic receptor labeling throughout the outer cell membrane.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Ferrets
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • G Protein-Coupled Inwardly-Rectifying Potassium Channels
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Heart Atria / metabolism*
  • Heart Ventricles / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism*
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying*
  • Rats
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M2
  • Receptors, Muscarinic / metabolism*
  • Sinoatrial Node / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity


  • G Protein-Coupled Inwardly-Rectifying Potassium Channels
  • Potassium Channels
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M2
  • Receptors, Muscarinic