Many ion channels and receptors display striking phenotypes for gainof-function mutations but milder phenotypes for null mutations. Gain of molecular function can have several mechanistic bases: selectivity changes, gating changes including constitutive activation and slowed inactivation, elimination of a subunit that enhances inactivation, decreased drug sensitivity, changes in regulation or trafficking of the channel, or induction of apoptosis. Decreased firing frequency can occur via increased function of K+ or Cl channels. Channel mutants also cause gain-of-function syndromes at the cellular and circuit level; of these syndromes, the cardiac long-QT syndromes are explained in a more straightforward way than are the epilepsies. G protein– coupled receptors are also affected by activating mutations.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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