Functional apical large conductance, Ca2+-activated, and voltage-dependent K+ channels are required for maintenance of airway surface liquid volume

Dahis Manzanares, Carlos Gonzalez, Pedro Ivonnet, Ren Shiang Chen, Monica Valencia-Gattas, Gregory E. Conner, H. Peter Larsson, Matthias Salathe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Large conductance, Ca2+-activated, and voltage-dependent K + (BK) channels control a variety of physiological processes in nervous, muscular, and renal epithelial tissues. In bronchial airway epithelia, extracellular ATP-mediated, apical increases in intracellular Ca2+ are important signals for ion movement through the apical membrane and regulation of water secretion. Although other, mainly basolaterally expressed K+ channels are recognized as modulators of ion transport in airway epithelial cells, the role of BK in this process, especially as a regulator of airway surface liquid volume, has not been examined. Using patch clamp and Ussing chamber approaches, this study reveals that BK channels are present and functional at the apical membrane of airway epithelial cells. BK channels open in response to ATP stimulation at the apical membrane and allow K+ flux to the airway surface liquid, whereas no functional BK channels were found basolaterally. Ion transport modeling supports the notion that apically expressed BK channels are part of an apical loop current, favoring apical Cl- efflux. Importantly, apical BK channels were found to be critical for the maintenance of adequate airway surface liquid volume because continuous inhibition of BK channels or knockdown of KCNMA1, the gene coding for the BK α subunit (KCNMA1), lead to airway surface dehydration and thus periciliary fluid height collapse revealed by low ciliary beat frequency that could be fully rescued by addition of apical fluid. Thus, apical BK channels play an important, previously unrecognized role in maintaining adequate airway surface hydration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19830-19839
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 3 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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