Therapeutic potential of targeting G protein-gated inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channels in the central nervous system

Danko Jeremic, Irene Sanchez-Rodriguez, Lydia Jimenez-Diaz, Juan D Navarro-Lopez
Pharmacology & Therapeutics 2021 January 18, : 107808
G protein-gated inwardly rectifying potassium channels (Kir3/GirK) are important for maintaining resting membrane potential, cell excitability and inhibitory neurotransmission. Coupled to numerous G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), they mediate the effects of many neurotransmitters, neuromodulators and hormones contributing to the general homeostasis and particular synaptic plasticity processes, learning, memory and pain signaling. A growing number of behavioral and genetic studies suggest a critical role for the appropriate functioning of the central nervous system, as well as their involvement in many neurologic and psychiatric conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases, mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, epilepsy, alcoholism and drug addiction. Hence, GirK channels emerge as a very promising tool to be targeted in the current scenario where these conditions already are or will become a global public health problem. This review examines recent findings on the physiology, function, dysfunction, and pharmacology of GirK channels in the central nervous system and highlights the relevance of GirK channels as a worthful potential target to improve therapies for related diseases.

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