KCNQ potassium channels in sensory system and neural circuits

Jing-jing WANG, Yang LI
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2015.131


M channels, an important regulator of neural excitability, are composed of four subunits of the Kv7 (KCNQ) K+ channel family. M channels were named as such because their activity was suppressed by stimulation of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. These channels are of particular interest because they are activated at the subthreshold membrane potentials. Furthermore, neural KCNQ channels are drug targets for the treatments of epilepsy and a variety of neurological disorders, including chronic and neuropathic pain, deafness, and mental illness. This review will update readers on the roles of KCNQ channels in the sensory system and neural circuits as well as discuss their respective mechanisms and the implications for physiology and medicine. We will also consider future perspectives and the development of additional pharmacological models, such as seizure, stroke, pain and mental illness, which work in combination with drug-design targeting of KCNQ channels. These models will hopefully deepen our understanding of KCNQ channels and provide general therapeutic prospects of related channelopathies.
Keywords: KCNQ channels; M channels; neural circuits; channelopathy; epilepsy; neuropathic pain; deafness; mental illness

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