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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2003 Dec;4(12):957-67.

Merging functional studies with structures of inward-rectifier K(+) channels.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0725, USA.


Inwardly rectifying K(+) (Kir) channels have a wide range of functions including the control of neuronal signalling, heart rate, blood flow and insulin release. Because of the physiological importance of these channels, considerable effort has been invested in understanding the structural basis of their physiology. In this review, we use two recent, high-resolution structures as foundations for examining our current understanding of the fundamental functions that are shared by all K(+) channels, such as K(+) selectivity and channel gating, as well as characteristic features of Kir channel family members, such as inward rectification and their regulation by intracellular factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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