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J Gen Physiol. 2010 Jun;135(6):607-18. doi: 10.1085/jgp.200910386. Epub 2010 May 17.

Identification of a protein-protein interaction between KCNE1 and the activation gate machinery of KCNQ1.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Programs in Neuroscience and Chemical Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.


KCNQ1 channels assemble with KCNE1 transmembrane (TM) peptides to form voltage-gated K(+) channel complexes with slow activation gate opening. The cytoplasmic C-terminal domain that abuts the KCNE1 TM segment has been implicated in regulating KCNQ1 gating, yet its interaction with KCNQ1 has not been described. Here, we identified a protein-protein interaction between the KCNE1 C-terminal domain and the KCNQ1 S6 activation gate and S4-S5 linker. Using cysteine cross-linking, we biochemically screened over 300 cysteine pairs in the KCNQ1-KCNE1 complex and identified three residues in KCNQ1 (H363C, P369C, and I257C) that formed disulfide bonds with cysteine residues in the KCNE1 C-terminal domain. Statistical analysis of cross-link efficiency showed that H363C preferentially reacted with KCNE1 residues H73C, S74C, and D76C, whereas P369C showed preference for only D76C. Electrophysiological investigation of the mutant K(+) channel complexes revealed that the KCNQ1 residue, H363C, formed cross-links not only with KCNE1 subunits, but also with neighboring KCNQ1 subunits in the complex. Cross-link formation involving the H363C residue was state dependent, primarily occurring when the KCNQ1-KCNE1 complex was closed. Based on these biochemical and electrophysiological data, we generated a closed-state model of the KCNQ1-KCNE1 cytoplasmic region where these protein-protein interactions are poised to slow activation gate opening.

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