Internal and external K+ help gate the inward rectifier

Biophys J. 1989 Jan;55(1):197-202. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(89)82792-4.


Recent investigations have demonstrated substantial reductions in internal [K+] in cardiac Purkinje fibers during myocardial ischemia (Dresdner, K.P., R.P. Kline, and A.L. Wit. 1987, Circ. Res. 60: 122-132). We investigated the possible role these changes in internal K+ might play in abnormal electrical activity by studying the effects of both internal and external [K+] on the gating of the inward rectifier iK1 in isolated Purkinje myocytes with the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. Increasing external [K+] had similar effects on the inward rectifier in the Purkinje myocyte as it does in other preparations: increasing peak conductance and shifting the activation curve in parallel with the potassium reversal potential. A reduction in pipette [K+] from 145 to 25 mM, however, had several dramatic previously unreported effects. It decreased the rate of activation of iK1 at a given voltage by several-fold, reversed the voltage dependence of recovery from deactivation, so that the deactivation rate decreased with depolarization, and caused a positive shift in the midpoint of the activation curve of iK1 that was severalfold smaller than the associated shift of reversal potential. These changes suggest an important role of internal K+ in gating iK1 and may contribute to changes in the electrical properties of the myocardium that occur during ischemia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Heart Conduction System / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Potassium / pharmacology
  • Potassium / physiology*
  • Potassium Channels / physiology*
  • Purkinje Fibers / physiology*


  • Potassium Channels
  • Potassium