Merging functional studies with structures of inward-rectifier K(+) channels

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2003 Dec;4(12):957-67. doi: 10.1038/nrn1244.


Inwardly rectifying K(+) (Kir) channels have a wide range of functions including the control of neuronal signalling, heart rate, blood flow and insulin release. Because of the physiological importance of these channels, considerable effort has been invested in understanding the structural basis of their physiology. In this review, we use two recent, high-resolution structures as foundations for examining our current understanding of the fundamental functions that are shared by all K(+) channels, such as K(+) selectivity and channel gating, as well as characteristic features of Kir channel family members, such as inward rectification and their regulation by intracellular factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasm / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating
  • Ions
  • Molecular Structure
  • Permeability
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / chemistry*
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying / physiology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Ions
  • Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying