The corticosteroid hormone induced factor (CHIF) is a member of the one-transmembrane segment protein family named FXYD, which also counts phospholemman and the Na,K-pump gamma-subunit. Originally it was suggested that CHIF could induce the expression of the I(Ks) current when expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes, but recently CHIF has attracted attention as a modulatory subunit of the Na,K-pump. In renal and intestinal epithelia, the expression of CHIF is dramatically up-regulated in response to aldosterone stimulation, and regulation of epithelial ion channels by CHIF is an attractive hypothesis. To study a potential regulatory effect of the CHIF subunit on KCNQ1 channels, co-expression experiments were performed in Xenopus laevis oocytes and mammalian CHO-K1 cells. Electrophysiological characterization was obtained by two-electrode voltage-clamp and patch-clamp, respectively. In both expression systems, we find that CHIF drastically modulates the KCNQ1 current; in the presence of CHIF, the KCNQ1 channels open at all membrane potentials. Thereby, CHIF is the first accessory subunit shown to be capable of modulating both the Na,K-pump and an ion channel. To find a possible physiological function of the constitutively open KCNQ1/CHIF complex, the precise localization of KCNQ1 and CHIF in distal colon and kidney from control and salt-depleted rats was determined by confocal microscopy. However, in these tissues, we did not detect an obvious overlap in expression between KCNQ1 and CHIF. In conclusion, the hormone-regulated subunit CHIF modulates the voltage sensitivity of the KCNQ channels, but so far evidence for an actual co-localization of CHIF and KCNQ1 channels in native tissue is lacking.
Keywords: Aldosterone; Animals; Anthracenes; CHO Cells; Colon; Cricetinae; Cricetulus; KCNQ1 Potassium Channel; Kidney; Male; Membrane Potentials; Membrane Proteins; Microscopy, Confocal; Oocytes; Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated; Rats; Xenopus laevis