Chapter 7 : Inward Rectifier K Channels

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Inward rectifier K channels (Kirs) act as a valve or a diode, allowing an inward current upon hyperpolarization but not allowing exit of K ions upon depolarization. The degree of rectification in the Kir channels is correlated with the binding affinity of the channel for blocking cations. Kir channels thus serve diverse and important roles throughout the human body and pose major challenges in the recognition of the molecular basis of Kir-mediated channelopathies. The genes for this family of potassium channels encode proteins ranging from ~360 to 500 amino acids. A comprehensive sequence analysis of K channels in (CE), (DM), and mammalian genomes has been performed. Although the fundamental pore structure is the same in all members of the K channel family, other parts of the sequence indicate significant structural diversity. Phylogenetic analysis of the Kir genes grouped CE together, excluding the genes from the other two species, indicating that gene duplication occurred after the divergence of CE from the lineage-leading mammals and DM. Plants possess K channels that conduct primarily at negative voltages. The inward rectification of these K channels in plants is independent of intracellular magnesium, thus differing mechanistically from gating of Kir channels in the animal kingdom. Moreover, chimeras of plant and animal Kirs that contain the S1 to S4 segments of plants are activated by hyperpolarization, suggesting that plant Kirs have a membrane topology similar to that of eukaryotic Kv channels.

Citation: Shrivastava I, Guy H. 2005. Inward Rectifier K Channels, p 123-132. In Kubalski A, Martinac B (ed), Bacterial Ion Channels and Their Eukaryotic Homologs. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816452.ch7

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Potassium Channels
Ion Channels
Caenorhabditis elegans
Gene Duplication
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Image of Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Classification and nomenclature of major human Kir channels are shown. Also indicated are the alternative names in parentheses.

Citation: Shrivastava I, Guy H. 2005. Inward Rectifier K Channels, p 123-132. In Kubalski A, Martinac B (ed), Bacterial Ion Channels and Their Eukaryotic Homologs. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816452.ch7
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Image of Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Cartoon representation of multimeric association of Kir subunits. (left) Homomeric association of tetramers; (middle) heteromeric association; (right) coassembly of Kir subunits with SURs.

Citation: Shrivastava I, Guy H. 2005. Inward Rectifier K Channels, p 123-132. In Kubalski A, Martinac B (ed), Bacterial Ion Channels and Their Eukaryotic Homologs. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816452.ch7
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Image of Figure 3.
Figure 3.

General topology of TM domain of Kirs. The dotted lines indicate approximate positions of the bilayer interfaces. (left) The TM helices are denoted as M1-P-M2; (right) association of Kir with intracellular SUR.

Citation: Shrivastava I, Guy H. 2005. Inward Rectifier K Channels, p 123-132. In Kubalski A, Martinac B (ed), Bacterial Ion Channels and Their Eukaryotic Homologs. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816452.ch7
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