Weighing the evidence for a ternary protein complex mediating A-type K+ currents in neurons

J Physiol. 2008 Dec 1;586(23):5609-23. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2008.161620. Epub 2008 Oct 9.


The subthreshold-operating A-type K(+) current in neurons (I(SA)) has important roles in the regulation of neuronal excitability, the timing of action potential firing and synaptic integration and plasticity. The channels mediating this current (Kv4 channels) have been implicated in epilepsy, the control of dopamine release, and the regulation of pain plasticity. It has been proposed that Kv4 channels in neurons are ternary complexes of three types of protein: pore forming subunits of the Kv4 subfamily and two types of auxiliary subunits, the Ca(2+) binding proteins KChIPs and the dipeptidyl peptidase-like proteins (DPPLs) DPP6 (also known as DPPX) and DPP10 (4 molecules of each per channel for a total of 12 proteins in the complex). Here we consider the evidence supporting this hypothesis. Kv4 channels in many neurons are likely to be ternary complexes of these three types of protein. KChIPs and DPPLs are required to efficiently traffic Kv4 channels to the plasma membrane and regulate the functional properties of the channels. These proteins may also be important in determining the localization of the channels to specific neuronal compartments, their dynamics, and their response to neuromodulators. A surprisingly large number of additional proteins have been shown to modify Kv4 channels in heterologous expression systems, but their association with native Kv4 channels in neurons has not been properly validated. A critical consideration of the evidence suggests that it is unlikely that association of Kv4 channels with these additional proteins is widespread in the CNS. However, we cannot exclude that some of these proteins may associate with the channels transiently or in specific neurons or neuronal compartments, or that they may associate with the channels in other tissues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology*
  • Kv Channel-Interacting Proteins / chemistry
  • Kv Channel-Interacting Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Multiprotein Complexes / chemistry
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Multiprotein Complexes / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Shal Potassium Channels / chemistry
  • Shal Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Shal Potassium Channels / physiology*


  • Kv Channel-Interacting Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Shal Potassium Channels