Differential voltage-dependent modulation of the ACh-gated K+ current by adenosine and acetylcholine
Inhibitory regulation of the heart is determined by both cholinergic M2 receptors (M2R) and adenosine A1 receptors (A1R) that activate the same signaling pathway, the ACh-gated inward rectifier K+ (KACh) channels via Gi/o proteins. Previously, we have shown that the agonist-specific voltage sensitivity of M2R underlies several voltage-dependent features of IKACh, including the ‘relaxation’ property, which is characterized by a gradual increase or decrease of the current when cardiomyocytes are stepped to hyperpolarized or depolarized voltages, respectively. However, it is unknown whether membrane potential also affects A1R and how this could impact IKACh. Upon recording whole-cell currents of guinea-pig cardiomyocytes, we found that stimulation of the A1R-Gi/o-IKACh pathway with adenosine only caused a very slight voltage dependence in concentration-response relationships (~1.2-fold EC50 increase with depolarization) that was not manifested in the relative affinity, as estimated by the current deactivation kinetics (τ = 4074 ± 214 ms at -100 mV and τ = 4331 ± 341 ms at +30 mV; P = 0.31). Moreover, IKACh did not exhibit relaxation. Contrarily, activation of the M2R-Gi/o-IKACh pathway with acetylcholine induced the typical relaxation of the current, which correlated with the clear voltage-dependent effect observed in the concentration-response curves (~2.8-fold EC50 increase with depolarization) and in the IKACh deactivation kinetics (τ = 1762 ± 119 ms at -100 mV and τ = 1503 ± 160 ms at +30 mV; P = 0.01). Our findings further substantiate the hypothesis of the agonist-specific voltage dependence of GPCRs and that the IKACh relaxation is consequence of this property.