Since the cloning of the first inwardly rectifying K+ channel in 1993, a family of related clones has been isolated, with many members being expressed in the heart. Exogenous expression of different clones has demonstrated that between them they encode channels with the essential functional properties of classic inward rectifier channels. ATP-sensitive K+ channels, and muscarinic receptor-activated inward rectifier channels. High-level expression of cloned channels has led to the discovery that classic strong inward, or anomalous, rectification is caused by very steeply voltage-dependent block of the channel by polyamines, with an additional contribution by Mg2+ ions. Knowledge of the primary structures of inward rectifying channels and the ability to mutate them have led to the determination of many of the structural requirements of inward rectification. The implications of these advances for basic understanding and pharmacological manipulation of cardiac excitability may be significant. For example, cellular concentrations of polyamines are altered under different conditions and can be manipulated pharmacologically. Simulations predict that changes in polyamine concentrations or changes in the relative proportions of each polyamine species could have profound effects on cardiac excitability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalCirculation research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996


  • K channels
  • inward rectifier channels
  • mutation
  • polyamines
  • spermine-spermidine- putrescine cloning


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