Trafficking motifs present in the intracellular regions of ion channels affect their subcellular location within neurons. The mechanisms that control trafficking to dendrites of central neurons have been identified, but it is not fully understood how channels are localized to the soma. We have now identified a motif within the calcium-activated potassium channel KCa2.1 (SK1) that results in somatic localization. Transfection of hippocampal neurons with KCa2.1 subunits causes expression of functional channels in only the soma and proximal processes. By contrast, expressed KCa2.3 subunits are located throughout the processes of transfected neurons. Point mutation of KCa2.1 within this novel motif to mimic a sequence present in the C-terminus of KCa2.3 causes expression of KCa2.1 subunits throughout the processes. We also demonstrate that blocking of clathrin-mediated endocytosis causes KCa2.1 subunit expression to mimic that of the mutated subunit. The role of this novel motif is therefore not to directly target trafficking of the channel to subcellular compartments, but to regulate channel location by subjecting it to rapid clathrin-mediated endocytosis.
- calcium-activated potassium channel
- hippocampal neurons
- whole-cell recording