We have used the patch-clamp technique to explore the role of A Kinase Anchor Proteins (AKAP) in mediating the effect of cAMP on ROMK1 channels expressed in the Xenopus oocytes. Addition of membrane permeant cAMP analogs increased channel activity only in oocytes injected with ROMK1 and AKAP79 cRNA but had no effect on channel activity in oocytes injected with ROMK1 alone. Using the two-electrode voltage clamp technique, we determined that application of H89, a potent inhibitor of protein kinase A (PKA), abolished the stimulatory effect of cAMP/forskolin. To investigate the role of AKAP specificity in conferring cAMP responses to ROMK1 channels, we examined channel activity in oocytes expressing ROMK1 and either AKAP18, AKAP-KL or AKAP75. Addition of cAMP failed to increase channel current in oocytes expressing ROMK1 and either AKAP18 or AKAP-KL. In contrast, cAMP increased ROMK1 channel activity by 33% in oocytes coexpressing AKAP75, the bovine homologue of AKAP79. The effect of cAMP on ROMK1 in oocytes coexpressing AKAP75 is inhibited by H89. Since all three AKAPs bind PKAII, the results suggest that a unique structural domain in AKAP75/79 collaborates with the PKAII binding site and enables a productive association of PKA with ROMK1 channels. Deletion of either the membrane targeting region of AKAP75 (AKAP45) or PKAII binding domain of AKAP75 (AKAP75ΔC) abolished the effects of forskolin on ROMK1 channels. This suggests that the membrane targeting and the PKA binding domains of AKAP75 are essential for the effect of cAMP. However, the nature of the AKAP, that interacts with ROMK1 in the native tissue, remains to be determined because AKAP75/79 are not expressed in the kidney. We conclude that the regulation of ROMK1 channels by PKA requires the involvement of the cell membrane-directed AKAPs that are able to specifically link PKA to the target channel protein.
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