Deeper and Deeper on the Role of BK and Kir4.1 Channels in Glioblastoma Invasiveness: A Novel Summative Mechanism?

F. Brandalise, D. Ratto, R. Leone, F. Olivero, E. Roda, C.A. Locatelli, M. Grazia Bottone, P. Rossi

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In the last decades, increasing evidence has revealed that a large number of channel protein and ion pumps exhibit impaired expression in cancers. This dysregulation is responsible for high proliferative rates as well as migration and invasiveness, reflected in the recently coined term oncochannelopathies. In glioblastoma (GBM), the most invasive and aggressive primary brain tumor, GBM cells modify their ionic equilibrium in order to change their volume as a necessary step prior to migration. This mechanism involves increased expression of BK channels and downregulation of the normally widespread Kir4.1 channels, as noted in GBM biopsies from patients. Despite a large body of work implicating BK channels in migration in response to an artificial intracellular calcium rise, little is known about how this channel acts in GBM cells at resting membrane potential (RMP), as compared to other channels that are constitutively open, such as Kir4.1. In this review we propose that a residual fraction of functionally active Kir4.1 channels mediates a small, but continuous, efflux of potassium at the more depolarized RMP of GBM cells. In addition, coinciding with transient membrane deformation and the intracellular rise in calcium concentration, brief activity of BK channels can induce massive and rapid cytosolic water loss that reduces cell volume (cell shrinkage), a necessary step for migration within the brain parenchyma. © Copyright © 2020 Brandalise, Ratto, Leone, Olivero, Roda, Locatelli, Grazia Bottone and Rossi.
Original languageEnglish
Article number595664
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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