N-(2-methoxyphenyl) benzenesulfonamide, a novel regulator of neuronal G protein-gated inward rectifier K+ channels
G protein-gated inward rectifier K+ (GIRK) channels are members of the super-family of proteins known as inward rectifier K+ (Kir) channels and are expressed throughout the peripheral and central nervous systems. Neuronal GIRK channels are the downstream targets of a number of neuromodulators including opioids, somatostatin, dopamine and cannabinoids. Previous studies have demonstrated that the ATP-sensitive K+ channel, another member of the Kir channel family, is regulated by sulfonamide drugs. Therefore, to determine if sulfonamides also modulate GIRK channels, we screened a library of arylsulfonamide compounds using a GIRK channel fluorescent assay that utilized pituitary AtT20 cells expressing GIRK channels along with the somatostatin type-2 and -5 receptors. Enhancement of the GIRK channel fluorescent signal by one compound, N-(2-methoxyphenyl) benzenesulfonamide (MPBS), was dependent on the activation of the channel by somatostatin. In whole-cell patch clamp experiments, application of MPBS both shifted the somatostatin concentration-response curve (EC50 = 3.5 nM [control] vs.1.0 nM [MPBS]) for GIRK channel activation and increased the maximum GIRK current measured with 100 nM somatostatin. However, GIRK channel activation was not observed when MPBS was applied to the cells in the absence of somatostatin. While the MPBS structural analog 4-fluoro-N-(2-methoxyphenyl) benzenesulfonamide also augmented the somatostatin-induced GIRK fluorescent signal, no increase in the signal was observed with the sulfonamides tolbutamide, sulfapyridine and celecoxib. In conclusion, MPBS represents a novel prototypic GPCR-dependent regulator of neuronal GIRK channels.