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      Voltage Sensor Inactivation in Potassium Channels

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          In voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels membrane depolarization causes movement of a voltage sensor domain. This conformational change of the protein is transmitted to the pore domain and eventually leads to pore opening. However, the voltage sensor domain may interact with two distinct gates in the pore domain: the activation gate (A-gate), involving the cytoplasmic S6 bundle crossing, and the pore gate (P-gate), located externally in the selectivity filter. How the voltage sensor moves and how tightly it interacts with these two gates on its way to adopt a relaxed conformation when the membrane is depolarized may critically determine the mode of Kv channel inactivation. In certain Kv channels, voltage sensor movement leads to a tight interaction with the P-gate, which may cause conformational changes that render the selectivity filter non-conductive (“P/C-type inactivation”). Other Kv channels may preferably undergo inactivation from pre-open closed-states during voltage sensor movement, because the voltage sensor temporarily uncouples from the A-gate. For this behavior, known as “preferential” closed-state inactivation, we introduce the term “A/C-type inactivation”. Mechanistically, P/C- and A/C-type inactivation represent two forms of “voltage sensor inactivation.”

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          Most cited references 88

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          A quantitative description of membrane current and its application to conduction and excitation in nerve.

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            Chemistry of ion coordination and hydration revealed by a K+ channel-Fab complex at 2.0 A resolution.

            Ion transport proteins must remove an ion's hydration shell to coordinate the ion selectively on the basis of its size and charge. To discover how the K+ channel solves this fundamental aspect of ion conduction, we solved the structure of the KcsA K+ channel in complex with a monoclonal Fab antibody fragment at 2.0 A resolution. Here we show how the K+ channel displaces water molecules around an ion at its extracellular entryway, and how it holds a K+ ion in a square antiprism of water molecules in a cavity near its intracellular entryway. Carbonyl oxygen atoms within the selectivity filter form a very similar square antiprism around each K+ binding site, as if to mimic the waters of hydration. The selectivity filter changes its ion coordination structure in low K+ solutions. This structural change is crucial to the operation of the selectivity filter in the cellular context, where the K+ ion concentration near the selectivity filter varies in response to channel gating.
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              Biophysical and molecular mechanisms of Shaker potassium channel inactivation.

              The potassium channels encoded by the Drosophila Shaker gene activate and inactivate rapidly when the membrane potential becomes more positive. Site-directed mutagenesis and single-channel patch-clamp recording were used to explore the molecular transitions that underlie inactivation in Shaker potassium channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes. A region near the amino terminus with an important role in inactivation has now been identified. The results suggest a model where this region forms a cytoplasmic domain that interacts with the open channel to cause inactivation.

                Author and article information

                Front Pharmacol
                Front Pharmacol
                Front. Pharmacol.
                Frontiers in Pharmacology
                Frontiers Research Foundation
                23 May 2012
                : 3
                1simpleInstitut für Zelluläre und Integrative Physiologie, Zentrum für Experimentelle Medizin, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf Hamburg, Germany
                Author notes

                Edited by: Gildas Loussouarn, University of Nantes, France

                Reviewed by: Harley Takatsuna Kurata, University of British Columbia, Canada; Keith Elmslie, AT Still University of Health Sciences, USA

                *Correspondence: Robert Bähring, Institut für Zelluläre und Integrative Physiologie, Zentrum für Experimentelle Medizin, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany. e-mail: r.baehring@

                This article was submitted to Frontiers in Pharmacology of Ion Channels and Channelopathies, a specialty of Frontiers in Pharmacology.

                Copyright © 2012 Bähring, Barghaan, Westermeier and Wollberg.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 89, Pages: 8, Words: 7527
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