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Sulphonylureas stimulate insulin secretion by binding with high-affinity to the sulphonylurea receptor (SUR) subunit of the ATP-sensitive potassium (K(ATP)) channel and thereby closing the channel pore (formed by four Kir6.2 subunits). In the absence of added nucleotides, the maximal block is around 60-80 %, indicating that sulphonylureas act as partial antagonists. Intracellular MgADP modulated sulphonylurea block, enhancing inhibition of Kir6.2/SUR1 (beta-cell type) and decreasing that of Kir6.2/SUR2A (cardiac-type) channels. We examined the molecular basis of the different response of channels containing SUR1 and SUR2A, by recording currents from inside-out patches excised from Xenopus oocytes heterologously expressing wild-type or chimeric channels. We used the benzamido derivative meglitinide as this drug blocks Kir6.2/SUR1 and Kir6.2/SUR2A currents, reversibly and with similar potency. Our results indicate that transfer of the region containing transmembrane helices (TMs) 8-11 and the following 65 residues of SUR1 into SUR2A largely confers a SUR1-like response to MgADP and meglitinide, whereas the reverse chimera (SUR128) largely endows SUR1 with a SUR2A-type response. This effect was not specific for meglitinide, as tolbutamide was also unable to prevent MgADP activation of Kir6.2/SUR128 currents. The data favour the idea that meglitinide binding to SUR1 impairs either MgADP binding or the transduction pathway between the NBDs and Kir6.2, and that TMs 8-11 are involved in this modulatory response. The results provide a basis for understanding how beta-cell K(ATP) channels show enhanced sulphonylurea inhibition under physiological conditions, whereas cardiac K(ATP) channels exhibit reduced block in intact cells, especially during metabolic inhibition.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





159 - 168


ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters, Adenosine Triphosphate, Animals, Benzamides, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Female, Hypoglycemic Agents, Ion Channel Gating, Islets of Langerhans, Mice, Mutagenesis, Myocardium, Oocytes, Potassium Channels, Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying, Rats, Receptors, Drug, Recombinant Fusion Proteins, Sulfonylurea Receptors, Tolbutamide, Xenopus laevis