Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Immunolocalization of KATP channel subunits in mouse and rat cardiac myocytes and the coronary vasculature

Alison Morrissey1, Erika Rosner1, Jennifer Lanning1, Lavanya Parachuru1, Piyali Dhar Chowdhury1, Sandra Han1, Gwendolyn Lopez1, XiaoYong Tong1, Hidetada Yoshida1, Tomoe Y Nakamura4, Michael Artman123, Jonathan P Giblin5, Andrew Tinker5 and William A Coetzee123*

Author Affiliations

1 Pediatric Cardiology, NYU School of Medicine, New York, USA

2 Pharmacology, NYU School of Medicine, New York, USA

3 Physiology and Neurosciences, NYU School of Medicine, New York, USA

4 Department of Molecular Physiology, National Cardiovascular Center Research Institute, Osaka, Japan

5 BHF Laboratories and Department of Medicine, University College London, UK

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BMC Physiology 2005, 5:1  doi:10.1186/1472-6793-5-1

Published: 12 January 2005



Electrophysiological data suggest that cardiac KATP channels consist of Kir6.2 and SUR2A subunits, but the distribution of these (and other KATP channel subunits) is poorly defined. We examined the localization of each of the KATP channel subunits in the mouse and rat heart.


Immunohistochemistry of cardiac cryosections demonstrate Kir6.1 protein to be expressed in ventricular myocytes, as well as in the smooth muscle and endothelial cells of coronary resistance vessels. Endothelial capillaries also stained positive for Kir6.1 protein. Kir6.2 protein expression was found predominantly in ventricular myocytes and also in endothelial cells, but not in smooth muscle cells. SUR1 subunits are strongly expressed at the sarcolemmal surface of ventricular myocytes (but not in the coronary vasculature), whereas SUR2 protein was found to be localized predominantly in cardiac myocytes and coronary vessels (mostly in smaller vessels). Immunocytochemistry of isolated ventricular myocytes shows co-localization of Kir6.2 and SUR2 proteins in a striated sarcomeric pattern, suggesting t-tubular expression of these proteins. Both Kir6.1 and SUR1 subunits were found to express strongly at the sarcolemma. The role(s) of these subunits in cardiomyocytes remain to be defined and may require a reassessment of the molecular nature of ventricular KATP channels.


Collectively, our data demonstrate unique cellular and subcellular KATP channel subunit expression patterns in the heart. These results suggest distinct roles for KATP channel subunits in diverse cardiac structures.