GSBS Student Publications

Student Author(s)

Karen Mruk

GSBS Program

Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

KCNQ1 Potassium Channel; Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated; Boronic Acids


Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology


KCNQ1 voltage-gated K(+) channels (Kv7.1) associate with the family of five KCNE peptides to form complexes with diverse gating properties and pharmacological sensitivities. The varied gating properties of the different KCNQ1-KCNE complexes enables the same K(+) channel to function in both excitable and non excitable tissues. Small molecule activators would be valuable tools for dissecting the gating mechanisms of KCNQ1-KCNE complexes; however, there are very few known activators of KCNQ1 channels and most are ineffective on the physiologically relevant KCNQ1-KCNE complexes. Here we show that a simple boronic acid, phenylboronic acid (PBA), activates KCNQ1/KCNE1 complexes co-expressed in Xenopus oocytes at millimolar concentrations. PBA shifts the voltage sensitivity of KCNQ1 channel complexes to favor the open state at negative potentials. Analysis of different-sized charge carriers revealed that PBA also targets the permeation pathway of KCNQ1 channels. Activation by the boronic acid moiety has some specificity for the Kv7 family members (KCNQ1, KCNQ2/3, and KCNQ4) since PBA does not activate Shaker or hERG channels. Furthermore, the commercial availability of numerous PBA derivatives provides a large class of compounds to investigate the gating mechanisms of KCNQ1-KCNE complexes.


Citation: PLoS ONE. 2009;4(1):e4236. Epub 2009 Jan 21. Link to article on publisher's site

Copyright: © 2009 Mruk et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID




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