Cell-based fluorescence screen for K+ channels and transporters using an extracellular triazacryptand-based K+ sensor

Wan Namkung, Prashant Padmawar, Aaron D. Mills, A. S. Verkman

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66 Citations (Scopus)


K+ channels and K+-coupled membrane transporters are important targets for drug discovery. We previously developed a triazacryptand (TAC)-based K+ sensor, TAC-Red, and demonstrated its utility to image K+ waves in mouse brain in vivo (Padmawar et al. Nat. Methods. 2005, 2, 825-827). Here, we synthesized a green-fluorescing dextran conjugate of TAC-bodipy ("TAC-Limedex") for use as an extracellular K+ sensor and demonstrated its utility in measuring K+ transport across cell membranes. TAC-Limedex fluorescence increased by 50% with increasing [K+] from 0 to 2 mM and was insensitive to [Na+], [Cl-], or pH. K+ efflux from cells was quantified from increasing extracellular TAC-Limedex fluorescence following cell immersion in K+-free buffer. In HT-29 cells, K+ efflux was 2.0 ± 0.1 μmol/cm2/s, increasing 8-fold following K+ channel activation by ATP; the increase in K+ efflux was inhibited by a K+ channel blocker or by preventing cytoplasmic calcium elevation. Electroneutral K+/Cl- cotransport was demonstrated in SiHa cells, in which K+ efflux was increased 3-fold by hypotonic challenge; the increase in K+ efflux was fully inhibited by a K+/Cl- transport blocker. K+ efflux measurements were adapted to a commercial fluorescence platereader for automated screening. The fluorescence-based K+ transport assay largely replaces assays requiring radioactive rubidium and is suitable for high-throughput identification of K+ transport modulators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7794-7795
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jun 25

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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