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Decreased cocaine self-administration in Kir3 potassium channel subunit knockout mice.

Andrew D Morgan, Marilyn E Carroll, Annemarie K Loth, Markus Stoffel, Kevin Wickman

Neuropsychopharmacology, 2003 May , 28, 932-8

Multiple G protein-linked neurotransmitter systems have been implicated in the behavioral effects of cocaine. While actions of certain neurotransmitter receptor subtypes and transporters have been identified, the role of individual G protein-regulated enzymes and ion channels in the effects of cocaine remains unclear. Here, we assessed the contribution of G protein-gated, inwardly rectifying potassium (Kir3/GIRK) channels to the locomotor-stimulatory and reinforcing effects of cocaine using knockout mice lacking one or both of the key neuronal channel subunits, Kir3.2 and Kir3.3. Cocaine-stimulated increases in horizontal locomotor activity in wild-type, Kir3.2 knockout, Kir3.3 knockout, and Kir3.2/3.3 double knockout mice, with only minor differences observed between the mouse lines. In contrast, Kir3.2 and Kir3.3 knockout mice exhibited dramatically reduced intravenous self-administration of cocaine relative to wild-type mice over a range of cocaine doses. Paradoxically, Kir3.2/3.3 double knockout mice self-administered cocaine at levels significantly higher than either single knockout alone. These findings suggest that Kir3 channels play significant and complex roles in the reinforcing effect of cocaine.