Regulated neuronal neuromodulation via spinal cord expression of the gene for the inwardly rectifying potassium channel 2.1 (Kir2.1)

Nicholas M. Boulis*, Chalonda R. Handy, Christina A. Krudy, Eleanor M. Donnelly, Thais Federici, Colin K. Franz, Emily M. Barrow, Qingshan Teng, Prasanna Kumar, Dean Cress

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Neuromodulation is used to restore neural function in disorders that stem from an imbalance in the activity of specific neural networks when they prove refractory to pharmacological therapy. The Kir2.1 gene contributes to stabilizing the resting potential below the threshold of activation of voltage-gated sodium channels and action potentials. Therefore, the delivery of the Kir2.1 gene to neuronal cells could reduce the probability of action potential generation, inhibiting excessive neural activity. OBJECTIVE: To address the hypothesis that overexpression of the inwardly rectifying potassium channel 2.1 (Kir2.1) gene could inhibit motor neuron activity and therefore be therapeutically used in gene-based neuromodulation. METHODS: To induce expression of Kir2.1, the inducible RheoSwitch promoter was used and controlled by ligand. In vivo gene expression was accomplished by an adenoviral vector to deliver unilaterally into the lumbar spinal cord of rats. RESULTS: Behavioral assays demonstrated that neuromuscular inhibition was exclusive to rats that received the ligand. Histological analysis also showed evidence of some motor neuron loss in these animals. Behavioral effects of Kir2.1 expression were completely reversible, arguing that the behavioral effect did not result from motor neuron death. CONCLUSION: Delivery of the gene for Kir2.1 inhibits neurons by resisting depolarization to the action potential threshold. Regulated neuronal expression of Kir2.1 may provide an elegant means for neuromodulation in a selected neuronal population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-661
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Adenovirus
  • Inducible promoter
  • Kir2.1
  • Motor neuron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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