Characterization and functional restoration of a potassium channel Kir6.2 pore mutation identified in congenital hyperinsulinism.
ABSTRACT The inwardly rectifying potassium channel Kir6.2 assembles with sulfonylurea receptor 1 to form the ATP-sensitive potassium (K(ATP)) channels that regulate insulin secretion in pancreatic beta-cells. Mutations in K(ATP) channels underlie insulin secretion disease. Here, we report the characterization of a heterozygous missense Kir6.2 mutation, G156R, identified in congenital hyperinsulinism. Homomeric mutant channels reconstituted in COS cells show similar surface expression as wild-type channels but fail to conduct potassium currents. The mutated glycine is in the pore-lining transmembrane helix of Kir6.2; an equivalent glycine in other potassium channels has been proposed to serve as a hinge to allow helix bending during gating. We found that mutation of an adjacent asparagine, Asn-160, to aspartate, which converts the channel from a weak to a strong inward rectifier, on the G156R background restored ion conduction in the mutant channel. Unlike N160D channels, however, G156R/N160D channels are not blocked by intracellular polyamines at positive membrane potential and exhibit wild-type-like nucleotide sensitivities, suggesting the aspartate introduced at position 160 interacts with arginine at 156 to restore ion conduction and gating. Using tandem Kir6.2 tetramers containing G156R and/or N160D in designated positions, we show that one mutant subunit in the tetramer is insufficient to abolish conductance and that G156R and N160D can interact in the same or adjacent subunits to restore conduction. We conclude that the glycine at 156 is not essential for K(ATP) channel gating and that the Kir6.2 gating defect caused by the G156R mutation could be rescued by manipulating chemical interactions between pore residues.