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Neuron. 2000 Feb;25(2):411-23.

A localized interaction surface for voltage-sensing domains on the pore domain of a K+ channel.

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  • 1Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Unit, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Voltage-gated K+ channels contain a central pore domain and four surrounding voltage-sensing domains. How and where changes in the structure of the voltage-sensing domains couple to the pore domain so as to gate ion conduction is not understood. The crystal structure of KcsA, a bacterial K+ channel homologous to the pore domain of voltage-gated K+ channels, provides a starting point for addressing this question. Guided by this structure, we used tryptophan-scanning mutagenesis on the transmembrane shell of the pore domain in the Shaker voltage-gated K+ channel to localize potential protein-protein and protein-lipid interfaces. Some mutants cause only minor changes in gating and when mapped onto the KcsA structure cluster away from the interface between pore domain subunits. In contrast, mutants producing large changes in gating tend to cluster near this interface. These results imply that voltage-sensing domains interact with localized regions near the interface between adjacent pore domain subunits.

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