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Biochemistry. 2000 Apr 25;39(16):4649-57.

Two critical cysteine residues implicated in disulfide bond formation and proper folding of Kir2.1.

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Department of Physiology, University of Toronto and University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C4, Canada.


Inwardly rectifying potassium channels are important in cellular repolarization of many excitable tissues. Amino acid sequence alignment of different mammalian inward rectifier K(+) channels revealed two absolutely conserved cysteine residues in the putative extracellular face, suggesting a possible disulfide bond. Replacement of these cysteine residues in the Kir2.1 channel (i.e., C122 and C154) with either alanine or serine abolished current in Xenopus laevis oocytes although Western blotting established that the channels were fully expressed. The digestion pattern of channels treated with V8 protease combined with Western blotting under reducing and nonreducing conditions confirmed intrasubunit cross-linking of C122 and C154. Whole-cell and single channel current recordings of oocytes expressing tandem tetrameric constructs with one or two of the mutant subunits suggested that insertion of one mutant subunit is sufficient to eliminate channel function. Coexpression studies confirmed that the cysteine mutant channels eliminate wild-type Kir2.1 currents in a dominant-negative manner. Despite these results, sulfhydryl reduction did not alter the functional properties of Kir2.1 currents. Molecular modeling of Kir2.1 with the two cysteines cross-linked predicted that the extracellular loop between the first transmembrane domain and the pore helix contains a beta-hairpin structure. Distinct from the KcsA structure, the disulfide bond together with the beta-hairpin structure is expected to constrain and stabilize the P-loop and selectivity filter. Taken together, these results suggest that intramolecular disulfide bond exists between C122 and C154 of Kir2.1 channel and this cross-link might be required for proper channel folding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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