Mechanistic basis of the inhibitory effect of extracellular zinc on rat Kv3.1

Zinc is a trace element that concentrates in some nerve terminals in the brain. Increased zinc concentration in the brain has been linked to epileptic seizures, which affect about 300,000 Canadians. Zinc is known to inhibit a potassium channel, Kv3.1, essential for neuronal activity, but how this occurs is not yet understood. Daniel Kwan is joint author on two papers in the international Journal of Physiology on research into a protein that controls the movement of potassium ions from heart muscle cells. Now he is extending his studies to determine how zinc binds to and inhibits the Kv3.1 channel. Ultimately, the results may lead to new treatments and drugs for brain disorders such as epilepsy.