ATP-sensitive K+ (KATP) channels are present at high density in membranes of cardiac cells where they regulate cardiac function during cellular metabolic impairment. KATP channels have been implicated in the shortening of the action potential duration and the cellular loss of K+ that occurs during metabolic inhibition. KATP channels have been associated with the cardioprotective mechanism of ischemia-related preconditioning. Intracellular ATP (ATPi) is the main regulator of KATP channels. ATPi has two functions: 1) to close the channel (ligand function) and 2) in the presence of Mg2+, to maintain the activity of KATP channels (presumably through an enzymatic reaction). KATP channel activity is modulated by intracellular nucleoside diphosphates that antagonize the ATPi-induced inhibition of channel opening or induce KATP channels to open. How nucleotides will affect KATP channels depends on the state of the channel. K+ channel-opening drugs are pharmacological agents that enhance KATP channel activity through different mechanisms and have great potential in the management of cardiovascular conditions. KATP channel activity is also modulated by neurohormones. Adenosine, through the activation of a GTP-binding protein, antagonizes the ATPi-induced channel closure. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie KATP channel regulation should prove essential to further define the function of KATP channels and to elucidate the pharmacological regulation of this channel protein. Since the molecular structure of the KATP channel has now become available, it is anticipated that major progress in the KATP channel field will be achieved.
- Copyright © 1995 the American Physiological Society