Modulation of A-type potassium channels by a family of calcium sensors.
In the brain and heart, rapidly inactivating (A-type) voltage-gated potassium (Kv) currents operate at subthreshold membrane potentials to control the excitability of neurons and cardiac myocytes. Although pore-forming alpha-subunits of the Kv4, or Shal-related, channel family form A-type currents in heterologous cells, these differ significantly from native A-type currents. Here we describe three Kv channel-interacting proteins (KChIPs) that bind to the cytoplasmic amino termini of Kv4 alpha-subunits. We find that expression of KChIP and Kv4 together reconstitutes several features of native A-type currents by modulating the density, inactivation kinetics and rate of recovery from inactivation of Kv4 channels in heterologous cells. All three KChIPs co-localize and co-immunoprecipitate with brain Kv4 alpha-subunits, and are thus integral components of native Kv4 channel complexes. The KChIPs have four EF-hand-like domains and bind calcium ions. As the activity and density of neuronal A-type currents tightly control responses to excitatory synaptic inputs, these KChIPs may regulate A-type currents, and hence neuronal excitability, in response to changes in intracellular calcium.