Background: We tested the hypothesis that the stretch-activated, four-transmembrane domain, two pore potassium channels (K2P), TREK-1 and TRAAK are gestationally-regulated in human myometrium and contribute to uterine relaxation during pregnancy until labor. Methodology: We determined the gene and protein expression of K2P channels in non-pregnant, pregnant term and preterm laboring myometrium. We employed both molecular biological and functional studies of K2P channels in myometrial samples taken from women undergoing cesarean delivery of a fetus. Principal Findings: TREK-1, but not TREK-2, channels are expressed in human myometrium and significantly up-regulated during pregnancy. Down-regulation of TREK-1 message was seen by Q-PCR in laboring tissues consistent with a role for TREK-1 in maintaining uterine quiescence prior to labor. The TRAAK channel was unregulated in the same women. Blockade of stretch-activated channels with a channel non-specific tarantula toxin (GsMTx-4) or the more specific TREK-1 antagonist Lmethionine ethyl ester altered contractile frequency in a dose-dependent manner in pregnant myometrium. Arachidonic acid treatment lowered contractile tension an effect blocked by fluphenazine. Functional studies are consistent with a role for TREK-1 in uterine quiescence. Conclusions: We provide evidence supporting a role for TREK-1 in contributing to uterine quiescence during gestation and hypothesize that dysregulation of this mechanism may underlie certain cases of spontaneous pre-term birth. © 2010 Buxton et al.
Buxton, I. L. O., Singer, C. A., & Tichenor, J. N. (2010). Expression of stretch-activated two-pore potassium channels in human myometrium in pregnancy and labor. PLoS ONE, 5(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0012372