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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Activation and inhibition of G protein-coupled inwardly rectifying potassium (Kir3) channels by G protein beta gamma subunits.

G protein- coupled inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channels can be activated or inhibited by different classes of receptors, suggesting a role for G proteins in determining signaling specificity. Because G protein betagamma subunits containing either beta1 or beta2 with multiple Ggamma subunits activate GIRK channels, we hypothesized that specificity might be imparted by beta3, beta4, or beta5 subunits. We used a transfection assay in cell lines expressing GIRK channels to examine effects of dimers containing these Gbeta subunits. Inwardly rectifying K(+) currents were increased in cells expressing beta3 or beta4, with either gamma2 or gamma11. Purified, recombinant beta3gamma2 and beta4gamma2 bound directly to glutathione-S-transferase fusion proteins containing N- or C-terminal cytoplasmic domains of GIRK1 and GIRK4, indicating that beta3 and beta4, like beta1, form dimers that bind to and activate GIRK channels. By contrast, beta5-containing dimers inhibited GIRK channel currents. This inhibitory effect was obtained with either beta5gamma2 or beta5gamma11, was observed with either GIRK1,4 or GIRK1,2 channels, and was evident in the context of either basal or agonist-induced currents, both of which were mediated by endogenous Gbetagamma subunits. In cotransfection assays, beta5gamma2 suppressed beta1gamma2-activated GIRK currents in a dose-dependent manner consistent with competitive inhibition. Moreover, we found that beta5gamma2 could bind to the same GIRK channel cytoplasmic domains as other, activating Gbetagamma subunits. Thus, beta5-containing dimers inhibit Gbetagamma- stimulated GIRK channels, perhaps by directly binding to the channels. This suggests that beta5-containing dimers could act as competitive antagonists of other Gbetagamma dimers on GIRK channels.[1]


  1. Activation and inhibition of G protein-coupled inwardly rectifying potassium (Kir3) channels by G protein beta gamma subunits. Lei, Q., Jones, M.B., Talley, E.M., Schrier, A.D., McIntire, W.E., Garrison, J.C., Bayliss, D.A. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2000) [Pubmed]
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