Analysis of Maxi-K alpha subunit splice variants in human myometrium
Morrison, John J.
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Curley M, Morrison JJ, Smith TJ; Analysis of Maxi-K alpha subunit splice variants in human myometrium; Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2004, 2:67 (21 September 2004)
Background: Large-conductance, calcium-activated potassium (Maxi-K) channels are implicated in the modulation of human uterine contractions and myometrial Ca2+ homeostasis. However, the regulatory mechanism(s) governing the expression of Maxi-K channels with decreased calcium sensitivity at parturition are unclear. The objectives of this study were to investigate mRNA expression of the Maxi-K alpha subunit, and that of its splice variants, in human non-pregnant and pregnant myometrium, prior to and after labour onset, to determine whether altered expression of these splice variants is associated with decreased calcium sensitivity observed at labour onset. Methods: Myometrial biopsies were obtained at hysterectomy (non-pregnant, NP), and at Caesarean section, at elective (pregnant not-in-labour, PNL) and intrapartum (pregnant in-labour, PL) procedures. RNA was extracted from all biopsies and quantitative real-time RT-PCR was used to investigate for possible differential expression of the Maxi-K alpha subunit, and that of its splice variants, between these functionally-distinct myometrial tissue sets. Results: RT-PCR analysis identified the presence of a 132 bp and an 87 bp spliced exon of the Maxi-K alpha subunit in all three myometrial tissue sets. Quantitative real-time PCR indicated a decrease in the expression of the Maxi-K alpha subunit with labour onset. While there was no change in the proportion of Maxi-K alpha subunits expressing the 87 bp spliced exon, the proportion of alpha subunits expressing the 132 bp spliced exon was significantly increased with labour onset, compared to both non-pregnant and pregnant not-in-labour tissues. An increased proportion of 132 bp exon-containing alpha subunit variants with labour onset is of interest, as channels expressing this spliced exon have decreased calcium and voltage sensitivities. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that decreased Maxi-K alpha subunit mRNA expression in human myometrium at labour onset, coupled to an increased proportion of Maxi-K channels expressing the 132 bp spliced exon, may be linked to decreased Maxi-K channel calcium and voltage sensitivity, thereby promoting enhanced uterine activity at the time of labour.
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