Developmental regulation of G protein-gated inwardly-rectifying K+ (GIRK/Kir3) channel subunits in the brain.
ABSTRACT: G protein-gated inwardly-rectifying K(+) (GIRK/family 3 of inwardly-rectifying K(+) ) channels are coupled to neurotransmitter action and can play important roles in modulating neuronal excitability. We investigated the temporal and spatial expression of GIRK1, GIRK2 and GIRK3 subunits in the developing and adult brain of mice and rats using biochemical, immunohistochemical and immunoelectron microscopic techniques. At all ages analysed, the overall distribution patterns of GIRK1-3 were very similar, with high expression levels in the neocortex, cerebellum, hippocampus and thalamus. Focusing on the hippocampus, histoblotting and immunohistochemistry showed that GIRK1-3 protein levels increased with age, and this was accompanied by a shift in the subcellular localization of the subunits. Early in development (postnatal day 5), GIRK subunits were predominantly localized to the endoplasmic reticulum in the pyramidal cells, but by postnatal day 60 they were mostly found along the plasma membrane. During development, GIRK1 and GIRK2 were found primarily at postsynaptic sites, whereas GIRK3 was predominantly detected at presynaptic sites. In addition, GIRK1 and GIRK2 expression on the spine plasma membrane showed identical proximal-to-distal gradients that differed from GIRK3 distribution. Furthermore, although GIRK1 was never found within the postsynaptic density (PSD), the level of GIRK2 in the PSD progressively increased and GIRK3 did not change in the PSD during development. Together, these findings shed new light on the developmental regulation and subcellular diversity of neuronal GIRK channels, and support the contention that distinct subpopulations of GIRK channels exert separable influences on neuronal excitability. The ability to selectively target specific subpopulations of GIRK channels may prove effective in the treatment of disorders of excitability.
Project description:Activation of G protein-gated inwardly-rectifying K(+) (GIRK or Kir3) channels by metabotropic gamma-aminobutyric acid (B) (GABA(B)) receptors is an essential signalling pathway controlling neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission in the brain. To investigate the relationship between GIRK channel subunits and GABA(B) receptors in cerebellar Purkinje cells at post- and pre-synaptic sites, we used biochemical, functional and immunohistochemical techniques. Co-immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrated that GIRK subunits are co-assembled with GABA(B) receptors in the cerebellum. Immunoelectron microscopy showed that the subunit composition of GIRK channels in Purkinje cell spines is compartment-dependent. Thus, at extrasynaptic sites GIRK channels are formed by GIRK1/GIRK2/GIRK3, post-synaptic densities contain GIRK2/GIRK3 and dendritic shafts contain GIRK1/GIRK3. The post-synaptic association of GIRK subunits with GABA(B) receptors in Purkinje cells is supported by the subcellular regulation of the ion channel and the receptor in mutant mice. At pre-synaptic sites, GIRK channels localized to parallel fibre terminals are formed by GIRK1/GIRK2/GIRK3 and co-localize with GABA(B) receptors. Consistent with this morphological evidence we demonstrate their functional interaction at axon terminals in the cerebellum by showing that GIRK channels play a role in the inhibition of glutamate release by GABA(B) receptors. The association of GIRK channels and GABA(B) receptors with excitatory synapses at both post- and pre-synaptic sites indicates their intimate involvement in the modulation of glutamatergic neurotransmission in the cerebellum.
Project description:G-protein-gated inwardly-rectifying K<sup>+</sup> (GIRK) channels are targets of G<sub>i/o</sub>-protein-signaling systems that inhibit cell excitability. GIRK channels exist as homotetramers (GIRK2 and GIRK4) or heterotetramers with nonfunctional homomeric subunits (GIRK1 and GIRK3). Although they have been implicated in multiple conditions, the lack of selective GIRK drugs that discriminate among the different GIRK channel subtypes has hampered investigations into their precise physiological relevance and therapeutic potential. Here, we report on a highly-specific, potent, and efficacious activator of brain GIRK1/2 channels. Using a chemical screen and electrophysiological assays, we found that this activator, the bromothiophene-substituted small molecule GAT1508, is specific for brain-expressed GIRK1/2 channels rather than for cardiac GIRK1/4 channels. Computational models predicted a GAT1508-binding site validated by experimental mutagenesis experiments, providing insights into how urea-based compounds engage distant GIRK1 residues required for channel activation. Furthermore, we provide computational and experimental evidence that GAT1508 is an allosteric modulator of channel-phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate interactions. Through brain-slice electrophysiology, we show that subthreshold GAT1508 concentrations directly stimulate GIRK currents in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) and potentiate baclofen-induced currents. Of note, GAT1508 effectively extinguished conditioned fear in rodents and lacked cardiac and behavioral side effects, suggesting its potential for use in pharmacotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. In summary, our findings indicate that the small molecule GAT1508 has high specificity for brain GIRK1/2 channel subunits, directly or allosterically activates GIRK1/2 channels in the BLA, and facilitates fear extinction in a rodent model.
Project description:Increased nociceptive neuronal excitability underlies chronic pain conditions. Various ion channels, including sodium, calcium and potassium channels have pivotal roles in the control of neuronal excitability. The members of the family of G protein-gated inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channels, GIRK1-4, have been implicated in modulating excitability. Here, we investigated the expression and distribution of GIRK1 and GIRK2 in normal and injured dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) and spinal cord of rats.We found that ~70% of the DRG neurons expressed GIRK1, while only <10% expressed GIRK2. The neurochemical profiles of GIRK1- and GIRK2-immunoreactive neurons were characterized using the neuronal markers calcitonin gene-related peptide, isolectin-B4 and neurofilament-200, and the calcium-binding proteins calbindin D28k, calretinin, parvalbumin and secretagogin. Both GIRK subunits were expressed in DRG neurons with nociceptive characteristics. However, while GIRK1 was widely expressed in several sensory neuronal subtypes, GIRK2 was detected mainly in a group of small C-fiber neurons. In the spinal dorsal horn, GIRK1- and -2-positive cell bodies and processes were mainly observed in lamina II, but also in superficial and deeper layers. Abundant GIRK1-, but not GIRK2-like immunoreactivity, was found in the ventral horn (laminae VI-X). Fourteen days after axotomy, GIRK1 and GIRK2 were down-regulated in DRG neurons at the mRNA and protein levels. Both after axotomy and rhizotomy there was a reduction of GIRK1- and -2-positive processes in the dorsal horn, suggesting a presynaptic localization of these potassium channels. Furthermore, nerve ligation caused accumulation of both subunits on both sides of the lesion, providing evidence for anterograde and retrograde fast axonal transport.Our data support the hypothesis that reduced GIRK function is associated with increased neuronal excitability and causes sensory disturbances in post-injury conditions, including neuropathic pain.
Project description:G protein-activated inwardly rectifying K(+) (GIRK) channels regulate neuronal excitability by mediating inhibitory effects of G protein-coupled receptors for neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. Notwithstanding many studies reporting modulation of GIRK channel function, whether neuronal activity regulates GIRK channel trafficking remains an open question. Here we report that NMDA receptor activation in cultured dissociated hippocampal neurons elevates surface expression of the GIRK channel subunits GIRK1 and GIRK2 in the soma, dendrites, and dendritic spines within 15 min. This activity-induced increase in GIRK surface expression requires protein phosphatase-1-mediated dephosphorylation of a serine residue (Ser-9) preceding the GIRK2 Val-13/Leu-14 (VL) internalization motif, thereby promoting channel recycling. Because activation of GIRK channels hyperpolarizes neuronal membranes, the NMDA receptor-induced regulation of GIRK channel trafficking may represent a dynamic adjustment of neuronal excitability in response to inhibitory neurotransmitters and/or neuromodulators.
Project description:G-protein-gated inwardly rectifying K+ (GIRK) channels are essential effectors of inhibitory neurotransmission in the brain. GIRK channels have been implicated in diseases with abnormal neuronal excitability, including epilepsy and addiction. GIRK channels are tetramers composed of either the same subunit (e.g., homotetramers) or different subunits (e.g., heterotetramers). Compounds that specifically target subsets of GIRK channels in vivo are lacking. Previous studies have shown that alcohol directly activates GIRK channels through a hydrophobic pocket located in the cytoplasmic domain of the channel. Here, we report the identification and functional characterization of a GIRK1-selective activator, termed GiGA1, that targets the alcohol pocket. GiGA1 activates GIRK1/GIRK2 both in vitro and in vivo and, in turn, mitigates the effects of a convulsant in an acute epilepsy mouse model. These results shed light on the structure-based development of subunit-specific GIRK modulators that could provide potential treatments for brain disorders.
Project description:Many neurotransmitters directly inhibit neurons by activating G protein-gated inwardly rectifying K+ (GIRK) channels, thereby moderating the influence of excitatory input on neuronal excitability. While most neuronal GIRK channels are formed by GIRK1 and GIRK2 subunits, distinct GIRK2 isoforms generated by alternative splicing have been identified. Here, we compared the trafficking and function of two isoforms (GIRK2a and GIRK2c) expressed individually in hippocampal pyramidal neurons lacking GIRK2. GIRK2a and GIRK2c supported comparable somato-dendritic GIRK currents in Girk2 -/- pyramidal neurons, although GIRK2c achieved a more uniform subcellular distribution in pyramidal neurons and supported inhibitory postsynaptic currents in distal dendrites better than GIRK2a. While over-expression of either isoform in dorsal CA1 pyramidal neurons restored contextual fear learning in a conditional Girk2 -/- mouse line, GIRK2a also enhanced cue fear learning. Collectively, these data indicate that GIRK2 isoform balance within a neuron can impact the processing of afferent inhibitory input and associated behavior.
Project description:Recurrent high-frequency epileptic seizures cause progressive hippocampal sclerosis, which is associated with caspase-3 activation and NMDA receptor-dependent excitotoxicity. However, the identity of caspase-3 substrates that contribute to seizure-induced hippocampal atrophy remains largely unknown. Here, we show that prolonged high-frequency epileptiform discharges in cultured hippocampal neurons leads to caspase-dependent cleavage of GIRK1 and GIRK2, the major subunits of neuronal G protein-activated inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channels that mediate membrane hyperpolarization and synaptic inhibition in the brain. We have identified caspase-3 cleavage sites in GIRK1 (387ECLD390) and GIRK2 (349YEVD352). The YEVD motif is highly conserved in GIRK2-4, and located within their C-terminal binding sites for G?? proteins that mediate membrane-delimited GIRK activation. Indeed, the cleaved GIRK2 displays reduced binding to G?? and cannot coassemble with GIRK1. Loss of an ER export motif upon cleavage of GIRK2 abolishes surface and current expression of GIRK2 homotetramic channels. Lastly, kainate-induced status epilepticus causes GIRK1 and GIRK2 cleavage in the hippocampus in vivo. Our findings are the first to show direct cleavage of GIRK1 and GIRK2 subunits by caspase-3, and suggest the possible role of caspase-3 mediated down-regulation of GIRK channel function and expression in hippocampal neuronal injury during prolonged epileptic seizures.
Project description:G protein-gated, inwardly rectifying, potassium (GIRK) channels are important regulators of cellular excitability throughout the body. GIRK channels are heterotetrameric and homotetrameric combinations of the Kir3.1-4 (GIRK1-4) subunits. Different subunit combinations are expressed throughout the central nervous system (CNS) and the periphery, and most of these combinations contain a GIRK1 subunit. For example, the predominance of GIRK channels in the CNS are composed of GIRK1 and GIRK2 subunits, while the GIRK channels in cardiac atrial myocytes are made up mostly of GIRK1 and GIRK4 subunits. Although the vast majority of GIRK channels contain a GIRK1 subunit, discrete populations of cells that express non-GIRK1-containing GIRK (non-GIRK1/X) channels do exist. For instance, dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the brain, associated with addiction and reward, do not express the GIRK1 subunit. Targeting these non-GIRK1/X channels with subunit-selective pharmacological probes could lead to important insights into how GIRK channels are involved in reward and addiction. Such insights may, in turn, reveal therapeutic opportunities for the treatment or prevention of addiction. Previously, our laboratory discovered small molecules that can specifically modulate the activity of GIRK1-containing GIRK channels. However, efforts to generate compounds active on non-GIRK1/X channels from these scaffolds have been unsuccessful. Recently, ivermectin was shown to modulate non-GIRK1/X channels, and historically, ivermectin is known to modulate a wide variety of neuronal channels and receptors. Further, ivermectin is a complex natural product, which makes it a challenging starting point for development of more selective, effective, and potent compounds. Thus, while ivermectin provides proof-of-concept as a non-GIRK1/X channel activator, it is of limited utility. Therefore, we sought to discover a synthetic small molecule that would serve as a starting point for the development of non-GIRK1/X channel modulators. To accomplish this, we used a high-throughput thallium flux assay to screen a 100?000-compound library in search of activators of homomeric GIRK2 channels. Using this approach, we discovered VU0529331, the first synthetic small molecule reported to activate non-GIRK1/X channels, to our knowledge. This discovery represents the first step toward developing potent and selective non-GIRK1/X channel probes. Such molecules will help elucidate the role of GIRK channels in addiction, potentially establishing a foundation for future development of therapies utilizing targeted GIRK channel modulation.
Project description:Atomoxetine and reboxetine are commonly used as selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (NRIs) for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and depression, respectively. Furthermore, recent studies have suggested that NRIs may be useful for the treatment of several other psychiatric disorders. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the various effects of NRIs have not yet been sufficiently clarified. G-protein-activated inwardly rectifying K(+) (GIRK or Kir3) channels have an important function in regulating neuronal excitability and heart rate, and GIRK channel modulation has been suggested to be a potential treatment for several neuropsychiatric disorders and cardiac arrhythmias. In this study, we investigated the effects of atomoxetine and reboxetine on GIRK channels using the Xenopus oocyte expression assay. In oocytes injected with mRNA for GIRK1/GIRK2, GIRK2, or GIRK1/GIRK4 subunits, extracellular application of atomoxetine or reboxetine reversibly reduced GIRK currents. The inhibitory effects were concentration-dependent, but voltage-independent, and time-independent during each voltage pulse. However, Kir1.1 and Kir2.1 channels were insensitive to atomoxetine and reboxetine. Atomoxetine and reboxetine also inhibited GIRK currents induced by activation of cloned A(1) adenosine receptors or by intracellularly applied GTPgammaS, a nonhydrolyzable GTP analogue. Furthermore, the GIRK currents induced by ethanol were concentration-dependently inhibited by extracellularly applied atomoxetine but not by intracellularly applied atomoxetine. The present results suggest that atomoxetine and reboxetine inhibit brain- and cardiac-type GIRK channels, revealing a novel characteristic of clinically used NRIs. GIRK channel inhibition may contribute to some of the therapeutic effects of NRIs and adverse side effects related to nervous system and heart function.
Project description:G protein-gated inwardly rectifying K(+) (Girk/K(IR)3) channels mediate the inhibitory effect of many neurotransmitters on excitable cells. Girk channels are tetramers consisting of various combinations of four mammalian Girk subunits (Girk1 to -4). Although Girk1 is unable to form functional homomeric channels, its presence in cardiac and neuronal channel complexes correlates with robust channel activity. This study sought to better understand the potentiating influence of Girk1, using the GABA(B) receptor and Girk1/Girk2 heteromer as a model system. Girk1 did not increase the protein levels or alter the trafficking of Girk2-containing channels to the cell surface in transfected cells or hippocampal neurons, indicating that its potentiating influence involves enhancement of channel activity. Structural elements in both the distal carboxyl-terminal domain and channel core were identified as key determinants of robust channel activity. In the distal carboxyl-terminal domain, residue Q404 was identified as a key determinant of receptor-induced channel activity. In the Girk1 core, three unique residues in the pore (P) loop (F137, A142, Y150) were identified as a collective potentiating influence on both receptor-dependent and receptor-independent channel activity, exerting their influence, at least in part, by enhancing mean open time and single-channel conductance. Interestingly, the potentiating influence of the Girk1 P-loop is tempered by residue F162 in the second membrane-spanning domain. Thus, discontinuous and sometime opposing elements in Girk1 underlie the Girk1-dependent potentiation of receptor-dependent and receptor-independent heteromeric channel activity.