Cyclic nucleotide-regulated channels (version 2019.4) in the IUPHAR/BPS Guide to Pharmacology Database

  • Elvir Becirovic Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
  • Martin Biel Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
  • Verena Hammelmann Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
  • Franz Hofmann Technische Universität München
  • U. Benjamin Kaupp Forschungszentrum Jülich


Cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels are responsible for signalling in the primary sensory cells of the vertebrate visual and olfactory systems.

CNG channels are voltage-independent cation channels formed as tetramers. Each subunit has 6TM, with the pore-forming domain between TM5 and TM6. CNG channels were first found in rod photoreceptors [69, 98], where light signals through rhodopsin and transducin to stimulate phosphodiesterase and reduce intracellular cyclic GMP level. This results in a closure of CNG channels and a reduced ‘dark current’. Similar channels were found in the cilia of olfactory neurons [153] and the pineal gland [60]. The cyclic nucleotides bind to a domain in the C terminus of the subunit protein: other channels directly binding cyclic nucleotides include HCN, eag and certain plant potassium channels.

Hyperpolarisation-activated, cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN)
The hyperpolarisation-activated, cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels are cation channels that are activated by hyperpolarisation at voltages negative to ~-50 mV. The cyclic nucleotides cyclic AMP and cyclic GMP directly activate the channels and shift the activation curves of HCN channels to more positive voltages, thereby enhancing channel activity. HCN channels underlie pacemaker currents found in many excitable cells including cardiac cells and neurons [56, 164]. In native cells, these currents have a variety of names, such as Ih, Iq and If. The four known HCN channels have six transmembrane domains and form tetramers. It is believed that the channels can form heteromers with each other, as has been shown for HCN1 and HCN4 [2]. High resolution structural studies of CNG and HCN channels has provided insight into the the gating processes of these channels [117, 121]. A standardised nomenclature for CNG and HCN channels has been proposed by the NC-IUPHAR subcommittee on voltage-gated ion channels [88].
How to Cite
Becirovic, E., Biel, M., Hammelmann, V., Hofmann, F. and Kaupp, U. B. (2019) “Cyclic nucleotide-regulated channels (version 2019.4) in the IUPHAR/BPS Guide to Pharmacology Database”, IUPHAR/BPS Guide to Pharmacology CITE, 2019(4). doi: 10.2218/gtopdb/F71/2019.4.