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Cell. 1996 Nov 29;87(5):857-68.

Regions responsible for the assembly of inwardly rectifying potassium channels.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0724, USA.


Inwardly rectifying potassium channels have an important role in determining the resting potential of the cell. They are tetrameric proteins with two transmembrane segments (M1 and M2), a pore-forming loop (H5), a cytoplasmic N-terminal, and longer C-terminal domain. We have used biochemical and electrophysiological methods to identify regions required for homotypic interactions and those responsible for the incompatibility between IRK1 and two other members of the same subfamily (IRK2 and IRK3) and two members from other subfamilies (ROMK1 and 6.1 uK(ATP)). The data indicate that, in contrast to the voltage-gated class of potassium channel, the proximal C-terminus and the transmembrane segment M2 determine homo-and heteromultimerization and that heteromultimerization between members of the same or different subfamilies is case specific.

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