Heteromeric channel formation and Ca2+-free media reduce the toxic effect of the weaver K(ir), 3.2 allele

Stephen J. Tucker, Mauro Pessia, Andrew J. Moorhouse, Fiona Gribble, Frances M. Ashcroft, James Maylie, John P. Adelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Weaver mice have a severe hypoplasia of the cerebellum with an almost complete loss of the midline granule cells. Recent genetic studies of weaver mice have identified a mutation resulting in an amino acid substitution (G156S) in the pore of the inwardly rectifying potassium channel subunit K(ir) 3.2. When expressed in Xenopus oocytes the weaver mutation alters channel selectivity from a potassium-selective to a nonspecific cation-selective pore. In this study me confirm by cell-attached patch-clamp recording that the mutation produces a non-selective cation channel. We also demonstrate that the cell death induced by weaver expression may be prevented by elimination of calcium from the extracellular solution as well as by coexpression with the wild-type K(ir), 3.2 allele, or other members of the K(ir) 3.0 subfamily. These results suggest that the weaver defect in K(ir) 3.2 may cause cerebellar cell death by cell swelling and calcium overload. Cells which express the weaver subunit, but which normally survive, may do so because of heteromeric subunit assembly with wild-type subunits of the K(ir) 3.0 subfamily.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-257
Number of pages5
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 29 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell death
  • Heteropolymerisation
  • Inwardly-rectifying potassium channel
  • Weaver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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