Promiscuous coupling between the sulphonylurea receptor and inwardly rectifying potassium channels.
Ammälä C., Moorhouse A., Gribble F., Ashfield R., Proks P., Smith PA., Sakura H., Coles B., Ashcroft SJ., Ashcroft FM.
Sulphonylureas are a class of drugs widely used to treat non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. These drugs act by binding to a sulphonylurea receptor (SUR) in the pancreatic beta-cell membrane which inhibits an ATP-sensitive potassium (K-ATP) channel and thereby stimulates insulin secretion. There has been much debate as to whether SUR and the K-ATP channel are the same or separate proteins, whether SUR confers ATP-sensitivity on an ATP-insensitive pore-forming subunit, and whether sulphonylureas can also modulate other types of K-channel. We show here that SUR itself does not possess intrinsic channel activity but that it endows sulphonylurea sensitivity on several types of inwardly-rectifying K-channels. It does not necessarily confer ATP-sensitivity on these channels.