In pancreatic β-cells, KATP channels consisting of Kir6.2 and SUR1 couple cell metabolism to membrane excitability and regulate insulin secretion. Sulfonylureas, insulin secretagogues used to treat type II diabetes, inhibit KATP channel activity primarily by abolishing the stimulatory effect of MgADP endowed by SUR1. In addition, sulfonylureas have been shown to function as pharmacological chaperones to correct channel biogenesis and trafficking defects. Recently, we reported that carbamazepine, an anticonvulsant known to inhibit voltage-gated sodium channels, has profound effects on K ATP channels. Like sulfonylureas, carbamazepine corrects trafficking defects in channels bearing mutations in the first transmembrane domain of SUR1. Moreover, carbamazepine inhibits the activity of KATP channels such that rescued mutant channels are unable to open when the intracellular ATP/ADP ratio is lowered by metabolic inhibition. Here, we investigated the mechanism by which carbamazepine inhibits KATP channel activity. We show that carbamazepine specifically blocks channel response to MgADP. This gating effect resembles that of sulfonylureas. Our results reveal striking similarities between carbamazepine and sulfonylureas in their effects on KATP channel biogenesis and gating and suggest that the 2 classes of drugs may act via a converging mechanism.
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