Arachidonic acid, as well as fatty acids that are not substrates for cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase enzymes, activated a specific type of potassium channel in freshly dissociated smooth muscle cells. Activation occurred in excised membrane patches in the absence of calcium and all nucleotides. Therefore signal transduction pathways that require such soluble factors, including the NADPH-dependent cytochrome P450 pathway, do not mediate the response. Thus, fatty acids directly activate potassium channels and so may constitute a class of signal molecules that regulate ion channels.
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