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Cell Signal. 1997 Dec;9(8):551-73.

Signalling via the G protein-activated K+ channels.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel. DASCALN@POST.TAU.AC.IL


The inwardly rectifying K+ channels of the GIRK (Kir3) family, members of the superfamily of inwardly rectifying K+ channels (Kir), are important physiological tools to regulate excitability in heart and brain by neurotransmitters, and the only ion channels conclusively shown to be activated by a direct interaction with heterotrimeric G protein subunits. During the last decade, especially since their cloning in 1993, remarkable progress has been made in understanding the structure, mechanisms of gating, activation by G proteins, and modulation of these channels. However, much of the molecular details of structure and of gating by G protein subunits and other factors, mechanisms of modulation and desensitization, and determinants of specificity of coupling to G proteins, remain unknown. This review summarizes both the recent advances and the unresolved questions now on the agenda in GIRK studies.

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