Department of Neurobiology
Medical Subject Headings
Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying; Drosophila
Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology
Inwardly rectifying potassium channels (Kir) are a special subset of potassium selective ion channels which pass potassium more easily into rather than out of the cell. These channels mediate a variety of cellular functions, including control of membrane resting potential, maintenance of potassium homeostasis and regulation of cellular metabolism. Given the existence of fifteen Kir genes in mammals, current genetic studies using mutant animals that lack a single channel may have missed many important physiological functions of these channels due to gene redundancy. This issue can be circumvented by using a simple model organism like Drosophila, whose genome encodes only 3 Kir proteins. The sophisticated genetic approaches of Drosophila may also provide powerful tools to identify additional regulation mechanisms of Kir channels. Here we provide an overview of the progress made in elucidating the function of Drosophila Kir channels. The knowledge of Drosophila Kir channels may lead us to uncover novel functions and regulation mechanisms of human Kir channels and help on pathological studies of related diseases.