BK (large conductance calcium- and voltage-activated potassium) channels are important determinants of physiological control in the nervous, endocrine and vascular systems with channel dysfunction associated with major disorders ranging from epilepsy to hypertension and obesity. Thus the mechanisms that control channel surface expression and/or activity are important determinants of their (patho)physiological function. BK channels are S-acylated (palmitoylated) at two distinct sites within the N- and C-terminus of the pore-forming α-subunit. Palmitoylation of the N-terminus controls channel trafficking and surface expression whereas palmitoylation of the C-terminal domain determines regulation of channel activity by AGC-family protein kinases. Recent studies are beginning to reveal mechanistic insights into how palmitoylation controls channel trafficking and cross-talk with phosphorylation-dependent signalling pathways. Intriguingly, each site of palmitoylation is regulated by distinct zDHHCs (palmitoyl acyltransferases) and APTs (acyl thioesterases). This supports that different mechanisms may control substrate specificity by zDHHCs and APTs even within the same target protein. As palmitoylation is dynamically regulated, this fundamental post-translational modification represents an important determinant of BK channel physiology in health and disease.

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