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Voltage-dependent Gating Rearrangements in the Intracellular T1–T1 Interface of a K+ Channel

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      The intracellular tetramerization domain (T1) of most eukaryotic voltage-gated potassium channels (Kv channels) exists as a “hanging gondola” below the transmembrane regions that directly control activation gating via the electromechanical coupling between the S4 voltage sensor and the main S6 gate. However, much less is known about the putative contribution of the T1 domain to Kv channel gating. This possibility is mechanistically intriguing because the T1–S1 linker connects the T1 domain to the voltage-sensing domain. Previously, we demonstrated that thiol-specific reagents inhibit Kv4.1 channels by reacting in a state-dependent manner with native Zn2+ site thiolate groups in the T1–T1 interface; therefore, we concluded that the T1–T1 interface is functionally active and not protected by Zn2+ (Wang, G., M. Shahidullah, C.A. Rocha, C. Strang, P.J. Pfaffinger, and M. Covarrubias. 2005. J. Gen. Physiol. 126:55–69). Here, we co-expressed Kv4.1 channels and auxiliary subunits (KChIP-1 and DPPX-S) to investigate the state and voltage dependence of the accessibility of MTSET to the three interfacial cysteines in the T1 domain. The results showed that the average MTSET modification rate constant (kMTSET) is dramatically enhanced in the activated state relative to the resting and inactivated states (∼260- and ∼47-fold, respectively). Crucially, under three separate conditions that produce distinct activation profiles, kMTSET is steeply voltage dependent in a manner that is precisely correlated with the peak conductance–voltage relations. These observations strongly suggest that Kv4 channel gating is tightly coupled to voltage-dependent accessibility changes of native T1 cysteines in the intersubunit Zn2+ site. Furthermore, cross-linking of cysteine pairs across the T1–T1 interface induced substantial inhibition of the channel, which supports the functionally dynamic role of T1 in channel gating. Therefore, we conclude that the complex voltage-dependent gating rearrangements of eukaryotic Kv channels are not limited to the membrane-spanning core but must include the intracellular T1–T1 interface. Oxidative stress in excitable tissues may perturb this interface to modulate Kv4 channel function.

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      Most cited references 39

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      Crystal structure of a mammalian voltage-dependent Shaker family K+ channel.

      Voltage-dependent potassium ion (K+) channels (Kv channels) conduct K+ ions across the cell membrane in response to changes in the membrane voltage, thereby regulating neuronal excitability by modulating the shape and frequency of action potentials. Here we report the crystal structure, at a resolution of 2.9 angstroms, of a mammalian Kv channel, Kv1.2, which is a member of the Shaker K+ channel family. This structure is in complex with an oxido-reductase beta subunit of the kind that can regulate mammalian Kv channels in their native cell environment. The activation gate of the pore is open. Large side portals communicate between the pore and the cytoplasm. Electrostatic properties of the side portals and positions of the T1 domain and beta subunit are consistent with electrophysiological studies of inactivation gating and with the possibility of K+ channel regulation by the beta subunit.
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        Voltage sensor of Kv1.2: structural basis of electromechanical coupling.

        Voltage-dependent ion channels contain voltage sensors that allow them to switch between nonconductive and conductive states over the narrow range of a few hundredths of a volt. We investigated the mechanism by which these channels sense cell membrane voltage by determining the x-ray crystal structure of a mammalian Shaker family potassium ion (K+) channel. The voltage-dependent K+ channel Kv1.2 grew three-dimensional crystals, with an internal arrangement that left the voltage sensors in an apparently native conformation, allowing us to reach three important conclusions. First, the voltage sensors are essentially independent domains inside the membrane. Second, they perform mechanical work on the pore through the S4-S5 linker helices, which are positioned to constrict or dilate the S6 inner helices of the pore. Third, in the open conformation, two of the four conserved Arg residues on S4 are on a lipid-facing surface and two are buried in the voltage sensor. The structure offers a simple picture of how membrane voltage influences the open probability of the channel.
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          Transmembrane movement of the shaker K+ channel S4.

          We have probed internal and external accessibility of S4 residues to the membrane-impermeant thiol reagent methanethiosulfonate-ethyltrimethlammonium (MTSET) in both open and closed, cysteine-substituted Shaker K+ channels. Our results indicate that S4 traverses the membrane with no more than 5 amino acids in the closed state, and that the distribution of buried residues changes when channels open. This change argues for a displacement of S4 through the plane of the membrane in which an initially intracellular residue moves to within 3 amino acids of the extracellular solution. These results demonstrate that the putative voltage-sensing charges of S4 actually reside in the membrane and that they move outward when channels open. We consider constraints placed on channel structure by these results.

            Author and article information

            Department of Pathology, Anatomy, and Cell Biology, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107
            Author notes

            Correspondence to Manuel Covarrubias: manuel.covarrubias@

            J Gen Physiol
            The Journal of General Physiology
            The Rockefeller University Press
            April 2006
            : 127
            : 4
            : 391-400
            Copyright © 2006, The Rockefeller University Press

            Anatomy & Physiology


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