Nanion Corporate Blog


27.06.2022: Publication Alert - Discovery of agonist–antagonist pairs for the modulation of Ca [2]+ and voltage-gated K+ channels of large conductance that contain beta1 subunits

In summary, we identified a novel lead agonist/antagonist pair for tuning BK currents generated by beta1 subunit-containing channels. The newly identified structures lay foundation for the generation of additional lead compounds that can form agonist/antagonist pairs and be suitable for further optimization within the drug development pipeline. 


Large conductance, calcium/voltage-gated potassium channels (BK) regulate critical body processes, including neuronal, secretory and smooth muscle (SM) function. While BK-forming alpha subunits are ubiquitous, accessory beta1 subunits are highly expressed in SM. This makes beta1 an attractive target for pharmaceutical development to treat SM disorders, such as hypertension or cerebrovascular spasm. Compounds activating BK via beta1 have been identified, yet they exhibit low potency and off-target effects while antagonists that limit agonist activity via beta 1 remain unexplored. Beta1-dependent BK ligand-based pharmacophore modeling and ZINC database searches identified 15 commercially available hits. Concentration-response curves on BK alpha + beta1 subunit-mediated currents were obtained in CHO cells. One potent (EC50 = 20 nM) and highly efficacious activator (maximal activation = ×10.3 of control) was identified along with a potent antagonist (KB = 3.02 nM), both of which were dependent on beta1. Our study provides the first proof-of-principle that an agonist/antagonist pair can be used to control beta1-containing BK activity.

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