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TRESK and TREK-2 two-pore-domain potassium channel subunits form functional heterodimers in primary somatosensory neurons


Lengyel MMiklós , Czirják GGábor , Jacobson DADavid A , Enyedi PPéter . The Journal of biological chemistry. 2020 07 07; 295(35). 12408-12425


Two-pore-domain potassium channels (K) are the major determinants of the background potassium conductance. They play a crucial role in setting the resting membrane potential and regulating cellular excitability. These channels form homodimers; however, a few examples of heterodimerization have also been reported. The K channel subunits TRESK and TREK-2 provide the predominant background potassium current in the primary sensory neurons of the dorsal root and trigeminal ganglia. A recent study has shown that a TRESK mutation causes migraine because it leads to the formation of a dominant negative truncated TRESK fragment. Surprisingly, this fragment can also interact with TREK-2. In this study, we determined the biophysical and pharmacological properties of the TRESK/TREK-2 heterodimer using a covalently linked TRESK/TREK-2 construct to ensure the assembly of the different subunits. The tandem channel has an intermediate single-channel conductance compared with the TRESK and TREK-2 homodimers. Similar conductance values were recorded when TRESK and TREK-2 were coexpressed, demonstrating that the two subunits can spontaneously form functional heterodimers. The TRESK component confers calcineurin-dependent regulation to the heterodimer and gives rise to a pharmacological profile similar to the TRESK homodimer, whereas the presence of the TREK-2 subunit renders the channel sensitive to the selective TREK-2 activator T2A3. In trigeminal primary sensory neurons, we detected single-channel activity with biophysical and pharmacological properties similar to the TRESK/TREK-2 tandem, indicating that WT TRESK and TREK-2 subunits coassemble to form functional heterodimeric channels also in native cells.