K ATP channels of primary human coronary artery endothelial cells consist of a heteromultimeric complex of Kir6.1, Kir6.2, and SUR2B subunits

J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2004 Oct;37(4):857-69. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2004.05.022.


Functional ATP-sensitive potassium (K(ATP)) channels can be reconstituted by expression of various combinations of different pore-forming subunits (Kir6.1 and Kir6.2) and sulfonylurea receptor (SUR) subunits. Using dominant negative and gene knockout approaches, Kir6.2 subunits have been identified as required pore-forming components of plasmalemmal K(ATP) channels in ventricular myocytes. Previous data obtained in heterologous expression systems suggest that Kir6.1 and Kir6.2 subunits are capable of forming a functional heteromultimeric channel complex. However, until now the existence of such heteromultimeric Kir6.1/Kir6.2 complexes has not been demonstrated for native K(ATP) channels. The primary aim of this study was to identify the molecular composition of native K(ATP) channels in primary human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAEC) and smooth muscle cells (HCASMC) from human origin. We specifically investigated the potential that heteromultimeric Kir6.1/Kir6.2 channels exist in these cells. Using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, we detected the expression of Kir6.1, Kir6.2, and SUR2B in both cell types. Western blotting and immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated the presence of Kir6.1 protein in both HCAEC and HCASMC; however, Kir6.2 protein was only expressed in HCAEC. Interaction between Kir6.1 and Kir6.2 subunits was demonstrated by reciprocal co-immunoprecipitation of these two subunits in HCAEC. Furthermore, Kir6.1 and Kir6.2 were detected in the immunoprecipitate when using an anti-SUR2 antibody. Confocal microscopy imaging demonstrated Kir6.1 and Kir6.2 subunits to co-localize at the cell surface membrane in HCAEC. In conclusion, our data characterize the molecular composition of primary human coronary smooth muscle and endothelial cells. We demonstrate that human coronary endothelial K(ATP) channels consist of a heteromultimeric complex of Kir6.1, Kir6.2, and SUR2B subunits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / analysis*
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coronary Vessels / cytology*
  • Coronary Vessels / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / chemistry*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • KATP Channels
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / immunology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism
  • Potassium Channels / analysis*
  • Potassium Channels / genetics
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / analysis*
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / genetics
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / metabolism
  • Protein Subunits / analysis
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Drug / analysis*
  • Receptors, Drug / genetics
  • Receptors, Drug / metabolism
  • Sulfonylurea Receptors


  • ABCC9 protein, human
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • KATP Channels
  • Kir6.2 channel
  • Potassium Channels
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying
  • Protein Subunits
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Drug
  • Sulfonylurea Receptors
  • uK-ATP-1 potassium channel