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Identification and functional characterization of a K+ channel alpha-subunit with regulatory properties specific to brain.

A Castellano, M D Chiara, B Mellström, A Molina, F Monje, J R Naranjo, J López-Barneo

J. Neurosci., 1997 Jun 15 , 17, 4652-61

The physiological diversity of K+ channels mainly depends on the expression of several genes encoding different alpha-subunits. We have cloned a new K+ channel alpha-subunit (Kv2.3r) that is unable to form functional channels on its own but that has a major regulatory function. Kv2.3r can coassemble selectively with other alpha-subunits to form functional heteromultimeric K+ channels with kinetic properties that differ from those of the parent channels. Kv2.3r is expressed exclusively in the brain, being concentrated particularly in neocortical neurons. The functional expression of this regulatory alpha-subunit represents a novel mechanism without precedents in voltage-gated channels, which might contribute to further increase the functional diversity of K+ channels necessary to specify the intrinsic electrical properties of individual neurons.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9169526