Propofol, an Anesthetic Agent, Inhibits HCN Channels through the Allosteric Modulation of the cAMP-Dependent Gating Mechanism

Morihiro Shimizu, Xinya Mi, Futoshi Toyoda, Akiko Kojima, Wei Guang Ding, Yutaka Fukushima, Mariko Omatsu-Kanbe, Hirotoshi Kitagawa, Hiroshi Matsuura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Propofol is a broadly used intravenous anesthetic agent that can cause cardiovascular effects, including bradycardia and asystole. A possible mechanism for these effects is slowing cardiac pacemaker activity due to inhibition of the hyperpolarization-activated, cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels. However, it remains unclear how propofol affects the allosteric nature of the voltage-and cAMP-dependent gating mechanism in HCN channels. To address this aim, we investigated the effect of propofol on HCN channels (HCN4 and HCN2) in heterologous expression systems using a whole-cell patch clamp technique. The extracellular application of propofol substantially suppressed the maximum current at clinical concentrations. This was accompanied by a hyperpolarizing shift in the voltage dependence of channel opening. These effects were significantly attenuated by intracellular loading of cAMP, even after considering the current modification by cAMP in opposite directions. The differential degree of propofol effects in the presence and absence of cAMP was rationalized by an allosteric gating model for HCN channels, where we assumed that propofol affects allosteric couplings between the pore, voltage-sensor, and cyclic nucleotide-binding domain (CNBD). The model predicted that propofol enhanced autoinhibition of pore opening by unliganded CNBD, which was relieved by the activation of CNBD by cAMP. Taken together, these findings reveal that propofol acts as an allosteric modulator of cAMP-dependent gating in HCN channels, which may help us to better understand the clinical action of this anesthetic drug.

Original languageEnglish
Article number570
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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