Alejandro Akrouh

Government of British Columbia, Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Publications (9)53.02 Total impact

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    Alejandro Akrouh, Daniel Kerschensteiner
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    ABSTRACT: The developing retina generates spontaneous glutamatergic (stage III) waves of activity that sequentially recruit neighboring ganglion cells with opposite light responses (ON and OFF RGCs). This activity pattern is thought to help establish parallel ON and OFF pathways in downstream visual areas. The circuits that produce stage III waves and desynchronize ON and OFF RGC firing remain obscure. Using dual patch-clamp recordings, we find that ON and OFF RGCs receive sequential excitatory input from ON and OFF cone bipolar cells (CBCs), respectively. This input sequence is generated by crossover circuits, in which ON CBCs control glutamate release from OFF CBCs via diffusely stratified inhibitory amacrine cells. In addition, neighboring ON CBCs communicate directly and indirectly through lateral glutamatergic transmission and gap junctions, both of which are required for wave initiation and propagation. Thus, intersecting lateral excitatory and vertical inhibitory circuits give rise to precisely patterned stage III retinal waves.
    Neuron 07/2013; · 15.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Steeply voltage-dependent inward rectification of Kir (inwardly-rectifying potassium) channels arises from blockade by cytoplasmic polyamines. These polycationic blockers traverse a long (>70 angstrom) pore, displacing multiple permeant ions, en route to a high affinity binding site that remains loosely defined. We have scanned the effects of cysteine modification at multiple pore-lining positions on the blocking properties of a library of polyamine analogs, demonstrating that the effects of cysteine modification are position and blocker-dependent. Specifically, introduction of positively-charged adducts results in two distinct phenotypes: either disruption of blocker binding, or generation of a barrier to blocker migration, in a consistent pattern that depends on both the length of the polyamine blocker and the position of the modified cysteine. These findings reveal important details about the chemical basis and specific location of high-affinity polyamine binding.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 01/2013; · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: KATP channels regulate insulin secretion by coupling β-cell metabolism to membrane excitability. These channels are comprised of a pore-forming Kir6.2 tetramer which is enveloped by four regulatory SUR1 subunits. ATP acts on Kir6.2 to stabilize the channel closed state while ADP (coordinated with Mg(2+)) activates channels via the SUR1 domains. Aberrations in nucleotide-binding or in coupling binding to gating can lead to hyperinsulinism or diabetes. Here, we report a case of diabetes in a 7-mo old child with compound heterozygous mutations in ABCC8 (SUR1[A30V] and SUR1[G296R]). In unison, these mutations lead to a gain of KATP channel function, which will attenuate the β-cell response to increased metabolism and will thereby decrease insulin secretion. (86)Rb(+) flux assays on COSm6 cells coexpressing the mutant subunits (to recapitulate the compound heterozygous state) show a 2-fold increase in basal rate of (86)Rb(+) efflux relative to WT channels. Experiments on excised inside-out patches also reveal a slight increase in activity, manifested as an enhancement in stimulation by MgADP in channels expressing the compound heterozygous mutations or homozygous G296R mutation. In addition, the IC 50 for ATP inhibition of homomeric A30V channels was increased ~6-fold, and was increased ~3-fold for both heteromeric A30V+WT channels or compound heterozygous (A30V +G296R) channels. Thus, each mutation makes a mechanistically distinct contribution to the channel gain-of-function that results in neonatal diabetes, and which we predict may contribute to diabetes in related carrier individuals.
    Channels (Austin, Tex.) 03/2012; 6(2):133-8. · 1.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Murine ventricular and atrial ATP-sensitive potassium (K(ATP)) channels contain different sulfonylurea receptors (ventricular K(ATP) channels are Kir6.2/SUR2A complexes, while atrial K(ATP) channels are Kir6.2/SUR1 complexes). HMR 1098, the sodium salt of HMR 1883 {1-[[5-[2-(5-chloro-o-anisamido)ethyl]-2-methoxyphenyl]sulfonyl]-3-methylthiourea}, has been considered as a selective sarcolemmal (i.e. SUR2A-dependent) K(ATP) channel inhibitor. However, it is not clear whether HMR 1098 would preferentially inhibit ventricular K(ATP) channels over atrial K(ATP) channels. To test this, we used whole-cell patch clamp techniques on mouse atrial and ventricular myocytes as well as (86)Rb(+) efflux assays and excised inside-out patch clamp techniques on Kir6.2/SUR1 and Kir6.2/SUR2A channels heterologously expressed in COSm6 cells. In mouse atrial myocytes, both spontaneously activated and diazoxide-activated K(ATP) currents were effectively inhibited by 10 μM HMR 1098. By contrast, in ventricular myocytes, pinacidil-activated K(ATP) currents were inhibited by HMR 1098 at a high concentration (100 μM) but not at a low concentration (10 μM). Consistent with this finding, HMR 1098 inhibits (86)Rb(+) effluxes through Kir6.2/SUR1 more effectively than Kir6.2/SUR2A channels in COSm6 cells. In excised inside-out patches, HMR 1098 inhibited Kir6.2/SUR1 channels more effectively, particularly in the presence of MgADP and MgATP (mimicking physiological stimulation). Finally, dose-dependent enhancement of insulin secretion from pancreatic islets and decrease of blood glucose level confirm that HMR 1098 is an inhibitor of Kir6.2/SUR1-composed K(ATP) channels.
    Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology 03/2011; 50(3):552-60. · 5.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: GABA(A) receptors are found on the somatodendritic compartment and on the axon initial segment of many principal neurons. The function of axonal receptors remains obscure, although it is widely assumed that axonal receptors must have a strong effect on excitability. We found that activation of GABA(A) receptors on the dentate granule neuron axon initial segment altered excitability by depolarizing the voltage threshold for action potential initiation under conditions that minimally affected overall cell input resistance. In contrast, activation of somatic GABA(A) receptors strongly depressed the input resistance of granule neurons without affecting the voltage threshold of action potential initiation. Although these effects were observed over a range of intracellular chloride concentrations, average voltage threshold was unaffected when E(Cl) rendered GABA(A) axon initial segment responses explicitly excitatory. A compartment model of a granule neuron confirmed these experimental observations. Low ambient agonist concentrations designed to activate granule neuron tonic currents did not stimulate axonal receptors sufficiently to raise voltage threshold. Using excitatory postsynaptic current (EPSC)-like depolarizations, we show physiological consequences of axonal versus somatic GABA(A) receptor activation. With axonal inhibition, individual excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) largely retained their amplitude and time course, but EPSPs that were suprathreshold under basal conditions failed to reach threshold with GABA(A) activation. By contrast, somatic inhibition depressed individual EPSPs because of strong shunting. Our results suggest that axonal GABA(A) receptors have a privileged effect on voltage threshold and that two major measures of neuronal excitability, voltage threshold and rheobase, are differentially affected by axonal and somatic GABA(A) receptor activation.
    Journal of Neurophysiology 11/2010; 105(1):366-79. · 3.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ATP-sensitive K(+) channel (K(ATP)) controls insulin secretion from the islet. Gain- or loss-of-function mutations in channel subunits underlie human neonatal diabetes and congenital hyperinsulinism (HI), respectively. In this study, we sought to identify the mechanistic basis of K(ATP)-induced HI in two probands and to characterize the clinical course. We analyzed HI in two probands and characterized the course of clinical treatment in each, as well as properties of mutant K(ATP) channels expressed in COSm6 cells using Rb efflux and patch-clamp methods. We identified mutation V290M in the pore-forming Kir6.2 subunit in each proband. In vitro expression in COSm6 cells supports the mutation resulting in an inactivating phenotype, which leads to significantly reduced activity in intact cells when expressed homomerically, and to a lesser extent when expressed heteromerically with wild-type subunits. In one heterozygous proband, a fluoro-DOPA scan revealed a causal focal lesion, indicating uniparental disomy with loss of heterozygosity. In a second family, the proband, homozygous for the mutation, was diagnosed with severe diazoxide-unresponsive hypersinsulinism at 2 weeks of age. The patient continues to be treated successfully with octreotide and amlodipine. The parents and a male sibling are heterozygous carriers without overt clinical HI. Interestingly, both the mother and the sibling exhibit evidence of abnormally enhanced glucose tolerance. V290M results in inactivating K(ATP) channels that underlie HI. Homozygous individuals may be managed medically, without pancreatectomy. Heterozygous carriers also show evidence of enhanced glucose sensitivity, consistent with incomplete loss of K(ATP) channel activity.
    Diabetes 10/2010; 60(1):209-17. · 7.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The ATP-sensitive potassium (K(ATP)) channel is expressed in most excitable tissues and plays a critical role in numerous physiological processes by coupling intracellular energetics to electrical activity. The channel is comprised of four Kir6.x subunits associated with four regulatory sulfonylurea receptors (SUR). Intracellular ATP acts on Kir6.x to inhibit channel activity, while MgADP stimulates channel activity through SUR. Changes in the cytosolic [ATP] to [ADP] ratio thus determine channel activity. Multiple mutations in Kir6.x and SUR genes have implicated K(ATP) channels in various diseases ranging from diabetes and hyperinsulinism to cardiac arrhythmias and cardiovascular disease. Continuing studies of channel physiology and pathology will bring new insights to the molecular basis of K(ATP) channel function, leading to a better understanding of the role that K(ATP) channels play in both health and disease.
    International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Life 10/2009; 61(10):971-8. · 2.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The E23K variant in the Kir6.2 subunit of the ATP-sensitive K(+) channel (K(ATP) channel) is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The present study was undertaken to increase our understanding of the mechanisms responsible. To avoid confounding effects of hyperglycemia, insulin secretion and action were studied in subjects with the variant who had normal glucose tolerance. Nine subjects with the E23K genotype K/K and nine matched subjects with the E/E genotype underwent 5-h oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTTs), graded glucose infusion, and hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp with stable-isotope-labeled tracer infusions to assess insulin secretion, action, and clearance. A total of 461 volunteers consecutively genotyped for the E23K variant also underwent OGTTs. Functional studies of the wild-type and E23K variant potassium channels were conducted. Insulin secretory responses to oral and intravenous glucose were reduced by approximately 40% in glucose-tolerant subjects homozygous for E23K. Normal glucose tolerance with reduced insulin secretion suggests a change in insulin sensitivity. The hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp revealed that hepatic insulin sensitivity is approximately 40% greater in subjects with the E23K variant, and these subjects demonstrate increased insulin sensitivity after oral glucose. The reconstituted E23K channels confirm reduced sensitivity to inhibitory ATP and increase in open probability, a direct molecular explanation for reduced insulin secretion. The E23K variant leads to overactivity of the K(ATP) channel, resulting in reduced insulin secretion. Initially, insulin sensitivity is enhanced, thereby maintaining normal glucose tolerance. Presumably, over time, as insulin secretion falls further or insulin resistance develops, glucose levels rise resulting in type 2 diabetes.
    Diabetes 07/2009; 58(8):1869-78. · 7.90 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 02/2009; 96(3):465-. · 3.67 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

77 Citations
53.02 Total Impact Points


  • 2013
    • Government of British Columbia, Canada
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2011
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery
      Seattle, WA, United States
  • 2010
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      • Department of Pediatrics
      Chapel Hill, NC, United States
  • 2009
    • Washington University in St. Louis
      • Department of Cell Biology and Physiology
      Saint Louis, MO, United States