Isolation and characterization of I(Kr) in cardiac myocytes by Cs+ permeation

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2006 Mar;290(3):H1038-49. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00679.2005. Epub 2005 Oct 14.


Isolation of the rapidly activating delayed rectifier potassium current (I(Kr)) from other cardiac currents has been a difficult task for quantitative study of this current. The present study was designed to separate I(Kr) using Cs+ in cardiac myocytes. Cs+ have been known to block a variety of K+ channels, including many of those involved in the cardiac action potential such as inward rectifier potassium current I(K1) and the transient outward potassium current I(to). However, under isotonic Cs+ conditions (135 mM Cs+), a significant membrane current was recorded in isolated rabbit ventricular myocytes. This current displayed the voltage-dependent onset of and recovery from inactivation that are characteristic to I(Kr). Consistently, the current was selectively inhibited by the specific I(Kr) blockers. The biophysical and pharmacological properties of the Cs+-carried human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) current were very similar to those of the Cs+-carried I(Kr) in ventricular myocytes. The primary sequence of the selectivity filter in hERG was in part responsible for the Cs+ permeability, which was lost when the sequence was changed from GFG to GYG, characteristic of other, Cs+-impermeable K+ channels. Thus the unique high Cs+ permeability in I(Kr) channels provides an effective way to isolate I(Kr) current. Although the biophysical and pharmacological properties of the Cs+-carried I(Kr) are different from those of the K+-carried I(Kr), such an assay enables I(Kr) current to be recorded at a level that is large enough and sufficiently robust to evaluate any I(Kr) alterations in native tissues in response to physiological or pathological changes. It is particularly useful for exploring the role of reduction of I(Kr) in arrhythmias associated with heart failure and long QT syndrome due to the reduced hERG channel membrane expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cesium / administration & dosage*
  • Delayed Rectifier Potassium Channels / drug effects
  • Delayed Rectifier Potassium Channels / physiology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ion Channel Gating / drug effects
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology*
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / drug effects
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods*
  • Rabbits


  • Delayed Rectifier Potassium Channels
  • Cesium