Botanical folk medicines have been used throughout human history to treat common disorders such as hypertension, often with unknown underlying mechanisms. Here, we discovered that hypotensive folk medicines from a genetically diverse range of plant species each selectively activated the vascular-expressed KCNQ5 potassium channel, a feature lacking in the modern synthetic pharmacopeia, whereas nonhypotensive plant extracts did not. Analyzing constituents of the hypotensive Sophora flavescens root, we found that the quinolizidine alkaloid aloperine is a KCNQ-dependent vasorelaxant that potently and isoform-selectively activates KCNQ5 by binding near the foot of the channel voltage sensor. Our findings reveal that KCNQ5-selective activation is a defining molecular mechanistic signature of genetically diverse traditional botanical hypotensives, transcending plant genus and human cultural boundaries. Discovery of botanical KCNQ5-selective potassium channel openers may enable future targeted therapies for diseases including hypertension and KCNQ5 loss-of-function encephalopathy.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 30 Sep 2019|
- herbal medicine
- potassium channel