Heterogeneous Distribution of Kir3 Potassium Channel Proteins Within Dopaminergic Neurons in the Mesencephalon of the Rat Brain
We have cloned by homology screening from a rat brain cDNA library a GIRK3-type (Kir 3.3) inwardly rectifying K+ channel subunit with high structural similarity to other subfamily members whose activity is thought to be controlled by receptor-stimulated G proteins. When heterologously expressed both in Xenopus oocytes and in mammalian COS-7 cells, rbGIRK3 subunits individually fail to form functional channels. In contrast, when coexpressed with other GIRK subunits, rbGIRK3 gives rise to prominent currents which are enhanced by the stimulation of coexpressed 5-HT1A receptors. In situ hybridizations show that of all GIRK subunits rbGIRK3 is most widely distributed and strongly expressed throughout the rat brain and thus may play an important role in central signal processing.