Acid sensing ion channels regulate neuronal excitability by inhibiting BK potassium channels

Elena Petroff, Vladislav Snitsarev, Huiyu Gong, Francois M. Abboud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Acid sensing ion channels (ASICs), Ca2+ and voltage-activated potassium channels (BK) are widely present throughout the central nervous system. Previous studies have shown that when expressed together in heterologous cells, ASICs inhibit BK channels, and this inhibition is relieved by acidic extracellular pH. We hypothesized that ASIC and BK channels might interact in neurons, and that ASICs may regulate BK channel activity. We found that ASICs inhibited BK currents in cultured wild-type cortical neurons, but not in ASIC1a/2/3 triple knockout neurons. The inhibition in the wild-type was partially relieved by a drop in extracellular pH to 6. To test the consequences of ASIC-BK interaction for neuronal excitability, we compared action potential firing in cultured cortical neurons from wild-type and ASIC1a/2/3 null mice. We found that in the knockout, action potentials were narrow and exhibited increased after-hyperpolarization. Moreover, the excitability of these neurons was significantly increased. These findings are consistent with increased BK channel activity in the neurons from ASIC1a/2/3 null mice. Our data suggest that ASICs can act as endogenous pH-dependent inhibitors of BK channels, and thereby can reduce neuronal excitability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-515
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - 5 Oct 2012


  • Acid sensing ion channel
  • Action potential
  • BK channel
  • Excitability


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