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Neuron. 2001 Aug 2;31(2):233-45.

Signaling in channel/enzyme multimers: ATPase transitions in SUR module gate ATP-sensitive K+ conductance.

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  • 1Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


ATP-sensitive potassium (K(ATP)) channels are bifunctional multimers assembled by an ion conductor and a sulfonylurea receptor (SUR) ATPase. Sensitive to ATP/ADP, K(ATP) channels are vital metabolic sensors. However, channel regulation by competitive ATP/ADP binding would require oscillations in intracellular nucleotides incompatible with cell survival. We found that channel behavior is determined by the ATPase-driven engagement of SUR into discrete conformations. Capture of the SUR catalytic cycle in prehydrolytic states facilitated pore closure, while recruitment of posthydrolytic intermediates translated in pore opening. In the cell, channel openers stabilized posthydrolytic states promoting K(ATP) channel activation. Nucleotide exchange between intrinsic ATPase and ATP/ADP-scavenging systems defined the lifetimes of specific SUR conformations gating K(ATP) channels. Signal transduction through the catalytic module provides a paradigm for channel/enzyme operation and integrates membrane excitability with metabolic cascades.

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