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Salk scientists crack molecular code regulating neuronal excitability
Date:3/22/2011

periments targeting the GIRK negatively charged region confirmed the hypothesis. Synthetic forms of GIRK lacking the region no longer bound to SNX27. By contrast, an artificial version of IRK engineered to contain the GIRK negative charges homed to SNX27.

Most significant were experiments conducted by Bartosz Balana, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Slesinger lab and the study's first author. Balana measured currents from cells engineered to carry GIRK channels lacking the charged region and found that GIRK currents were no longer dampened by SNX27, while cells expressing IRK channels displaying the false GIRK "address" now responded to SNX27. "This functional assay pin-pointed residues that dictate SNX27 binding beyond the normal PDZ recognition sequence," says Bartosz. "This supports a two-site binding model and emphasizes that second site can overrule binding at the classical site."

An interesting corollary to GIRKs' involvement in drug-related behavior is that SNX27 levels reportedly increase in rodent models of addiction to stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine. Selectively blocking this newly identified interaction between GIRK and SNX27 might thwart addiction. "Now we are able to better understand the role of these channels in responses to drugs of abuse. It is our hope that that this work will lead to new strategies to treat diseases such as alcoholism or even, diseases of excitability, such as epilepsy." says Slesinger.

Also contributing to the study were Kalyn Stern and Laia Bahima of the Slesinger Lab and Innokentiy Maslennikov, and Witek Kwiatkowski of Choe's Structural Biology Laboratory.


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Contact: Gina Kirchweger
kirchweger@salk.edu
858-453-4100 x1340
Salk Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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