Northwestern Events Calendar


Direct Activation of Potassium Channels by Neurotransmitters and Ancient Medicines

When: Monday, December 2, 2019
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM  

Where: Ward Building, Room 5-230, 303 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Lexi Nash   312.503.4893

Group: Department of Pharmacology Seminars

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Geoffrey W. Abbott, Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Biophysics
University of California – Irvine

γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in vertebrate CNS.  The canonical action of GABA is via binding to neuronal GABA receptors (GABARs) to induce hyperpolarization by intrinsic (GABAA/CRs) or extrinsic (GABABRs) ion channel activation.  Voltage-gated potassium channels KCNQ2-5, especially KCNQ2/3 heteromers, generate the neuronal M-current, another important hyperpolarizing force.  Here, we discuss our recent finding that GABA and related metabolites directly activate KCNQ2/3 channels, and KCNQ2/3-dependently hyperpolarizes cells, with sensitivity comparable to the most sensitive α/β/γ GABAARs.  We identified the M-channel GABA binding site as KCNQ3-W265, a position conserved for >500 million years in deuterostome clades but absent in protostomes and in cardiac-expressed KCNQ1.  M-channel activation is a novel, unexpected mechanism for physiological and therapeutic inhibitory actions of GABA and analogues.  This work has led to further discoveries in KCNQ channel pharmacology, including isolation of a potent KCNQ channel activator from cilantro.  We also found that activation of the vascular-expressed KCNQ5 is a common mechanism for a variety of genetically and culturally diverse hypotensive botanical folk medicines. The implications of this work will be discussed with respect to KCNQ channel physiology, pharmacology and drug discovery.  

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