[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: K+ channels achieve exquisite ion selectivity without jeopardizing efficient permeation by employing multiple, interacting K+-binding sites. Introduction ofa cadmium (Cd2+)-binding site in the external vestibule of Kv2.1 (drk1), allowed us to functionally characterize a binding site for external monovalent cations. Permeant ions displayed higher affinity for this site than non-permeant monovalent cations, although the selectivity profile was different from that of the channel. Point mutations identified the highly conserved aspartate residue immediately following the selectivity filter as a critical determinant of the antagonism between external K+ and Cd2+ ions. A conservative mutation at this position (D378E) significantly affected the open-state stability. Moreover, the mean open time was found to be modulated by external K+ concentration, suggesting a coupling between channel closing and the permeation process. Reducing the Rb+ conductance by mutating the selectivity filter to the sequence found inKv4.1, also significantly reduced the effectiveness ofRb+ ions to antagonize Cd2+ inhibition, thereby implicating the selectivity filter as the site at which K+ions exert their antagonistic effect on Cd2+ block. The equivalent of D378 in KcsA, D80, takes part in an inter-subunit hydrogen-bond network that allows D80to functionally interact with the selectivity filter. The results suggest that external K+ ions antagonize Cd2+inhibition (in I379C) and modulate the mean open time(in the wild-type Kv2.1) by altering the occupancy profile of the K+-binding sites in the selectivity filter.
Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology 04/2006; 451(6):776-92. · 4.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Voltage-gated K channels assemble from four identical subunits symmetrically arranged around a central permeation pathway. Each subunit harbors a voltage-sensing domain. The sigmoidal nature of the activation kinetics suggests that multiple sensors need to undergo a conformational change before the channel can open. Following activation, individual K channels alternate stochastically between two main permeation states, open and closed. This binary character of single channel behavior suggests the presence of a structure in the permeation pathway that can exist in only two conformations. However, single channel analysis of drk1 (K(v)2.1) K channels demonstrated the existence of four additional, intermediate conductance levels. These short-lived subconductance levels are visited when the channel gate moves between the closed and fully open state. We have proposed that these sublevels arise from transient heteromeric pore conformations, in which some, but not all, subunits are in the "open" state. A minimal model based on this hypothesis relates specific subconductance states with the number of activated subunits (Chapman et al., 1997). To stringently test this hypothesis, we constructed a tandem dimer that links two K channel subunits with different activation thresholds. Activation of this dimer by strong depolarizations resulted in the characteristic binary open-close behavior. However, depolarizations to membrane potentials in between the activation thresholds of the two parents elicited highly unusual single channel gating, displaying frequent visits to two subconductance levels. The voltage dependence and kinetics of the small and large sublevels associate them with the activation of one and two subunits, respectively. The data therefore support the hypothesis that subconductance levels result from heteromeric pore conformations. In this model, both sensor movement and channel opening have a subunit basis and these processes are allosterically coupled.
The Journal of General Physiology 09/2005; 126(2):87-103. · 4.57 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cells maintain a negative resting membrane potential through the constitutive activity of background K+ channels. A novel multigene family of such K+ channels has recently been identified. A unique characteristic of these K+ channels is the presence of two homologous, subunit-like domains, each containing a pore-forming region. Sequence co-variations in the GYGD signature motifs of the two pore regions suggested an interaction between neighbouring pore domains. Mutations of the GYGD motif in the rat drk1 (Kv2.1) K+ channel showed that the tyrosine (Y) position was important for K+ selectivity and single channel conductance, whereas the aspartate (D) position was a critical determinant of open state stability. Tandem constructs engineered to mimic the GYGx-GxGD pattern seen in two-domain K+ channels delineated a co-operative intersubunit interaction between the Y and D positions, which determined ion selectivity, conductance and gating. In the bacterial KcsA K+ channel crystal structure, the equivalent aspartate residue (D80) does not directly interact with permeating K+ ions. However, the data presented here show that the D position is able to fine-tune ion selectivity through a functional interaction with the Y position in the neighbouring subunit. These data indicate a physiological basis for the extensive sequence variation seen in the GYGD motifs of two-domain K+ channels. It is suggested that a cell can precisely regulate its resting membrane potential by selectively expressing a complement of two-domain K+ channels.
The Journal of Physiology 02/2001; 530(Pt 1):21-33. · 4.54 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ion permeation and channel opening are two fundamental properties of ion channels, the molecular bases of which are poorly understood. Channels can exist in two permeability states, open and closed. The relative amount of time a channel spends in the open conformation depends on the state of activation. In voltage-gated ion channels, activation involves movement of a charged voltage sensor, which is required for channel opening. Single-channel recordings of drk1 K channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes suggested that intermediate current levels (sublevels) may be associated with transitions between the closed and open states. Because K channels are formed by four identical subunits, each contributing to the lining of the pore, it was hypothesized that these sublevels resulted from heteromeric pore conformations. A formal model based on this hypothesis predicted that sublevels should be more frequently observed in partially activated channels, in which some but not all subunits have undergone voltage-dependent conformational changes required for channel opening. Experiments using the drk1 K channel, as well as drk1 channels with mutations in the pore and in the voltage sensor, showed that the probability of visiting a sublevel correlated with voltage- and time-dependent changes in activation. A subunit basis is proposed for channel opening and permeation in which these processes are coupled.