While alcohols have been previously shown to open up GIRK channels, no study ever determined whether this was a direct effect or whether this was the by-product of other molecular changes in the cell.
In their previous research, Slesinger's team focused on the neural function of these ion channels, called GIRK channels, which open up during periods of chemical communication between neurons and dampen the signal, creating the equivalent of a short circuit.
When GIRKs open in response to neurotransmitter activation, potassium ions leak out of the neuron, decreasing neuronal activity," says UCSD Biology graduate student and first author Prafulla Aryal.
In general, these G-proteins activate GIRK
potassium channels, inhibit voltage-gated calcium channels, inhibit adenylyl cyclase, or activate phosphorylation of certain intracellular protein kinase enzymes (Fredholm et al.