Pacemaker channels are encoded by the HCN gene family and are responsible for a variety of cellular functions including control of spontaneous activity in cardiac myocytes and control of excitability in different types of neurons. Some of these functions require specific membrane localization. Although several voltage-gated channels are known to interact with intracellular proteins exerting auxiliary functions, no cytoplasmic proteins have been found so far to modulate HCN channels. Through the use of a yeast two-hybrid technique, here we showed that filamin A interacts with HCN1, an HCN isoform widely expressed in the brain, but not with HCN2 or HCN4. Filamin A is a cytoplasmic scaffold protein with actin-binding domains whose main function is to link transmembrane proteins to the actin cytoskeleton. Using several HCN1 C-terminal constructs, we identified a filamin A-interacting region of 22 amino acids located downstream from the cyclic nucleotide-binding domain; this region is not conserved in HCN2, HCN3, or HCN4. We also verified by immunoprecipitation from bovine brain that the filamin A-HCN1 interaction is functional in vivo. In filamin A-expressing cells (filamin +), HCN1 (but not HCN4) channels were expressed in hot spots, whereas they were evenly distributed on the membrane of cells lacking filamin A (filamin -) indicating that interaction with filamin A affects membrane localization. Also, in filamin - cells the gating kinetics of HCN1 were strongly accelerated relative to filamin + cells. The interaction with filamin A may contribute to localizing HCN1 channels to specific neuronal areas and to modulating channel activity.
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