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Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 16;6:19976. doi: 10.1038/srep19976.

Schizophrenia-Associated hERG channel Kv11.1-3.1 Exhibits a Unique Trafficking Deficit that is Rescued Through Proteasome Inhibition for High Throughput Screening.

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Departments of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences, Baltimore, MD 21205.
Lieber Institute for Brain Development, Baltimore, MD 21205.
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205.
Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baltimore, MD 21205.
Departments of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205.


The primate-specific brain voltage-gated potassium channel isoform Kv11.1-3.1 has been identified as a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of schizophrenia. While this ether-a-go-go related K(+)channel has shown clinical relevance, drug discovery efforts have been hampered due to low and inconsistent activity in cell-based assays. This poor activity is hypothesized to result from poor trafficking via the lack of an intact channel-stabilizing Per-Ant-Sim (PAS) domain. Here we characterize Kv11.1-3.1 cellular localization and show decreased channel expression and cell surface trafficking relative to the PAS-domain containing major isoform, Kv11.1-1A. Using small molecule inhibition of proteasome degradation, cellular expression and plasma membrane trafficking are rescued. These findings implicate the importance of the unfolded-protein response and endoplasmic reticulum associated degradation pathways in the expression and regulation of this schizophrenia risk factor. Utilizing this identified phenomenon, an electrophysiological and high throughput in-vitro fluorescent assay platform has been developed for drug discovery in order to explore a potentially new class of cognitive therapeutics.

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