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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Dec 5;92(25):11716-20.

Protein kinase A-independent modulation of ion channels in the brain by cyclic AMP.

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Institute of Neurophysiology, University of Oslo, Norway.


Ion channels underlying the electrical activity of neurons can be regulated by neurotransmitters via two basic mechanisms: ligand binding and covalent modification. Whereas neurotransmitters often act by binding directly to ion channels, the intracellular messenger cyclic AMP is thought usually to act indirectly, by activating protein kinase A, which in turn can phosphorylate channel proteins. Here we show that cyclic AMP, and transmitters acting via cyclic AMP, can act in a protein kinase A-independent manner in the brain. In hippocampal pyramidal cells, cyclic AMP and norepinephrine were found to cause a depolarization by enhancing the hyperpolarization-activated mixed cation current, IQ (also called Ih). This effect persisted even after protein kinase A activity was blocked, thus strongly suggesting a kinase-independent action of cyclic AMP. The modulation of this current by ascending monoaminergic fibers from the brainstem is likely to be a widespread mechanism, participating in the state control of the brain during arousal and attention.

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