Role of SK channel activation in determining the action potential configuration in freshly isolated human atrial myocytes from the SKArF study

Yousif A. Shamsaldeen, Lucy Culliford, Madeleine Clout, Andrew F. James, Raimondo Ascione, Jules C. Hancox, Neil V. Marrion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inhibition of SK channel function is being pursued in animal models as a possible therapeutic approach to treat atrial fibrillation (AF). However, the pharmacology of SK channels in human atria is unclear. SK channel function is inhibited by both apamin and UCL1684, with the former discriminating between SK channel subtypes. In this proof-of-principle study, the effects of apamin and UCL1684 on right atrial myocytes freshly isolated from patients in sinus rhythm undergoing elective cardiac surgery were investigated. Outward current evoked from voltage clamped human atrial myocytes was reduced by these two inhibitors of SK channel function. In contrast, membrane current underlying the atrial action potential was affected significantly only by UCL1684 and not by apamin. This pharmacology mirrors that observed in mouse atria, suggesting that mammalian atria possess two populations of SK channels, with only one population contributing to the action potential waveform. Immuno-visualization of the subcellular localization of SK2 and SK3 subunits showed a high degree of colocalization, consistent with the formation of heteromeric SK2/SK3 channels. These data reveal that human atrial myocytes express two SK channel subtypes, one exhibiting an unusual pharmacology. These channels contribute to the atrial action potential waveform and might be a target for novel therapeutic approaches to treat supraventricular arrhythmic conditions such as atrial fibrillation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)684-690
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and biophysical research communications
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The trial was funded by a Bristol Heart Foundation (BHF) grant ( BHF PG/16/37/ ) to Marrion, Hancox, James and Ascione. The study was also supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Bristol Biomedical Research Centre at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol . The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health and Social Care.


  • Action potential
  • Atria
  • Heteromer
  • Human
  • Pharmacology
  • SK channel


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