Home > Conscious > Chapter 6 > 6.5. The Activation Mechanism of GIRK Channels


A GIRK channel is formed by four subunits (Figure 6-7). There are four different GIRK channel subunits: GIRK1-GIRK4. A GIRK channel may contain four identical GIRK2, or mixed GIRK1/2, GIRK1/3, GIRK1/4, or GIRK2/3. Binding with PIP2 is required to stabilize the GIRK channel in its open state. Gβγ can enhance their binding, thereby activating the GIRK channel. Similarly, alcohol can also interact directly with the GIRK channel to enhance its binding with PIP2 (Bodhinathan and Slesinger, 2014). The previous section has presented evidence that GIRK channels can suppress ISO-α which is directly related to consciousness. This explains why alcohol can reduce the clarity of consciousness.


Figure 6-7. The structure of a GIRK channel. [Source: Bodhinathan and Slesinger, 2014]