bioRxiv. 2023 Oct 18:2023.10.15.561774. doi: 10.1101/2023.10.15.561774. Preprint.
K2P potassium channels regulate excitability by affecting cellular resting membrane potential in the brain, cardiovascular system, immune cells, and sensory organs. Despite their important roles in anesthesia, arrhythmia, pain, hypertension, sleep, and migraine, the ability to control K2P function remains limited. Here, we describe a chemogenetic strategy termed CATKLAMP (Covalent Activation of TREK family K+ channels to cLAmp Membrane Potential) that leverages the discovery of a site in the K2P modulator pocket that reacts with electrophile-bearing derivatives of a TREK subfamily small molecule activator, ML335, to activate the channel irreversibly. We show that the CATKLAMP strategy can be used to probe fundamental aspects of K2P function, as a switch to silence neuronal firing, and is applicable to all TREK subfamily members. Together, our findings exemplify a new means to alter K2P channel activity that should facilitate studies both molecular and systems level studies of K2P function and enable the search for new K2P modulators.