The dynein motor protein transports proteins away from the cell membrane along the microtubule network. Recently, we found the microtubule network was important for regulating the membrane abundance of voltage-gated Kv7.4 potassium channels in vascular smooth muscle. Here, we aimed to investigate the influence of dynein on the microtubule-dependent internalization of the Kv7.4 channel. Patch-clamp recordings from HEK293B cells showed Kv7.4 currents were increased after inhibiting dynein function with ciliobrevin D or by coexpressing p50/dynamitin, which specifically interferes with dynein motor function. Mutation of a dynein-binding site in the Kv7.4 C terminus increased the Kv7.4 current and prevented p50 interference. Structured illumination microscopy, proximity ligation assays, and coimmunoprecipitation showed colocalization of Kv7.4 and dynein in mesenteric artery myocytes. Ciliobrevin D enhanced mesenteric artery relaxation to activators of Kv7.2–Kv7.5 channels and increased membrane abundance of Kv7.4 protein in isolated smooth muscle cells and HEK293B cells. Ciliobrevin D failed to enhance the negligible S-1–mediated relaxations after morpholino-mediated knockdown of Kv7.4. Mass spectrometry revealed an interaction of dynein with caveolin-1, confirmed using proximity ligation and coimmunoprecipitation assays, which also provided evidence for interaction of caveolin-1 with Kv7.4, confirming that Kv7.4 channels are localized to caveolae in mesenteric artery myocytes. Lastly, cholesterol depletion reduced the interaction of Kv7.4 with caveolin-1 and dynein while increasing the overall membrane expression of Kv7.4, although it attenuated the Kv7.4 current in oocytes and interfered with the action of ciliobrevin D and channel activators in arterial segments. Overall, this study shows that dynein can traffic Kv7.4 channels in vascular smooth muscle in a mechanism dependent on cholesterol-rich caveolae.

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