The small molecule GAT1508 activates brain-specific GIRK1/2 channel heteromers and facilitates conditioned fear extinction in rodents.
ABSTRACT: G-protein-gated inwardly-rectifying K+ (GIRK) channels are targets of Gi/o-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: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(+) (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:The atrial G protein-gated inwardly rectifying K+ (GIRK) channel is a critical mediator of parasympathetic influence on cardiac physiology. Here, we probed the details and relevance of the GIRK channel in mouse ventricle. mRNAs for the atrial GIRK channel subunits (GIRK1, GIRK4), M2 muscarinic receptor (M2R), and RGS6, a negative regulator of atrial GIRK-dependent signaling, were detected in mouse ventricle at relatively low levels. The cholinergic agonist carbachol (CCh) activated small GIRK currents in adult wild-type ventricular myocytes that exhibited relatively slow kinetics and low CCh sensitivity; these currents were absent in ventricular myocytes from Girk1-/- or Girk4-/- mice. While loss of GIRK channels attenuated the CCh-induced shortening of action potential duration and suppression of ventricular myocyte excitability, selective ablation of GIRK channels in ventricle had no effect on heart rate, heart rate variability, or electrocardiogram parameters at baseline or after CCh injection. Additionally, loss of ventricular GIRK channels did not impact susceptibility to ventricular arrhythmias. These data suggest that the mouse ventricular GIRK channel is a GIRK1/GIRK4 heteromer, and show that while it contributes to the cholinergic suppression of ventricular myocyte excitability, this influence does not substantially impact cardiac physiology or ventricular arrhythmogenesis in the mouse.
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, 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:To investigate the effects of various chemical classes of antipsychotic drugs: haloperidol, thioridazine, pimozide and clozapine, on the G-protein-activated inwardly rectifying K(+) (GIRK) channels, we carried out Xenopus oocyte functional assays with GIRK1 and GIRK2 mRNAs or GIRK1 and GIRK4 mRNAs. In oocytes co-injected with GIRK1 and GIRK2 mRNAs, application of each of the various antipsychotic drugs immediately caused a reduction of inward currents through the basally active GIRK channels. These responses were not observed in the presence of 3 mM Ba(2+), which blocks the GIRK channels. In addition, in uninjected oocytes, none of the drugs tested produced any significant current response. These results indicate that all the antipsychotic drugs tested inhibited the brain-type GIRK1/2 heteromultimeric channels. Furthermore, similar results were obtained in oocytes co-injected with GIRK1 and GIRK4 mRNAs, indicating that the antipsychotic drugs also inhibited the cardiac-type GIRK1/4 heteromultimeric channels. All the drugs tested inhibited, in a concentration-dependent manner, both types of GIRK channels with varying degrees of potency and effectiveness at micromolar concentrations. Only pimozide caused slight inhibition of these channels at nanomolar concentrations. We conclude that the various antipsychotic drugs acted as inhibitors at the brain-type and cardiac-type GIRK channels. Our results suggest that inhibition of both types of GIRK channels by these drugs underlies some of the side effects, in particular seizures and sinus tachycardia, observed in clinical practice.
Project description:Various antidepressants are commonly used for the treatment of depression and several other neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition to their primary effects on serotonergic or noradrenergic neurotransmitter systems, antidepressants have been shown to interact with several receptors and ion channels. However, the molecular mechanisms that underlie the effects of antidepressants have not yet been sufficiently clarified. G protein-activated inwardly rectifying K(+) (GIRK, Kir3) channels play an important role in regulating neuronal excitability and heart rate, and GIRK channel modulation has been suggested to have therapeutic potential for several neuropsychiatric disorders and cardiac arrhythmias. In the present study, we investigated the effects of various classes of antidepressants on GIRK channels using the Xenopus oocyte expression assay. In oocytes injected with mRNA for GIRK1/GIRK2 or GIRK1/GIRK4 subunits, extracellular application of sertraline, duloxetine, and amoxapine effectively reduced GIRK currents, whereas nefazodone, venlafaxine, mianserin, and mirtazapine weakly inhibited GIRK currents even at toxic levels. The inhibitory effects were concentration-dependent, with various degrees of potency and effectiveness. Furthermore, the effects of sertraline were voltage-independent and time-independent during each voltage pulse, whereas the effects of duloxetine were voltage-dependent with weaker inhibition with negative membrane potentials and time-dependent with a gradual decrease in each voltage pulse. However, Kir2.1 channels were insensitive to all of the drugs. Moreover, the GIRK currents induced by ethanol were inhibited by sertraline but not by intracellularly applied sertraline. The present results suggest that GIRK channel inhibition may reveal a novel characteristic of the commonly used antidepressants, particularly sertraline, and contributes to some of the therapeutic effects and adverse effects.
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: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:G protein-gated K+ channels (GIRK; Kir3), activated by G?? subunits derived from Gi/o proteins, regulate heartbeat and neuronal excitability and plasticity. Both neurotransmitter-evoked (Ievoked) and neurotransmitter-independent basal (Ibasal) GIRK activities are physiologically important, but mechanisms of Ibasal and its relation to Ievoked are unclear. We have previously shown for heterologously expressed neuronal GIRK1/2, and now show for native GIRK in hippocampal neurons, that Ibasal and Ievoked are interrelated: the extent of activation by neurotransmitter (activation index, Ra) is inversely related to Ibasal. To unveil the underlying mechanisms, we have developed a quantitative model of GIRK1/2 function. We characterized single-channel and macroscopic GIRK1/2 currents, and surface densities of GIRK1/2 and G?? expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Based on experimental results, we constructed a mathematical model of GIRK1/2 activity under steady-state conditions before and after activation by neurotransmitter. Our model accurately recapitulates Ibasal and Ievoked in Xenopus oocytes, HEK293 cells and hippocampal neurons; correctly predicts the dose-dependent activation of GIRK1/2 by coexpressed G?? and fully accounts for the inverse Ibasal-Ra correlation. Modeling indicates that, under all conditions and at different channel expression levels, between 3 and 4 G?? dimers are available for each GIRK1/2 channel. In contrast, available G?i/o decreases from ~2 to less than one G? per channel as GIRK1/2's density increases. The persistent G??/channel (but not G?/channel) ratio support a strong association of GIRK1/2 with G??, consistent with recruitment to the cell surface of G??, but not G?, by GIRK1/2. Our analysis suggests a maximal stoichiometry of 4 G?? but only 2 G?i/o per one GIRK1/2 channel. The unique, unequal association of GIRK1/2 with G protein subunits, and the cooperative nature of GIRK gating by G??, underlie the complex pattern of basal and agonist-evoked activities and allow GIRK1/2 to act as a sensitive bidirectional detector of both G?? and G?.