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FEBS Lett. 2004 Apr 30;564(3):257-63.

Critical assessment of a proposed model of Shaker.

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Rockefeller University, 1280 York Ave, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Detailed three-dimensional structures at atomic resolution are essential to understand how voltage-activated K(+) channels function. The X-ray crystallographic structure of the KvAP channel has offered the first view at atomic resolution of the molecular architecture of a voltage-activated K(+) channel. In the crystal, the voltage sensors are bound by monoclonal Fab fragments, which apparently induce a non-native conformation of the tetrameric channel. Thus, despite this significant advance our knowledge of the native conformation of a Kv channel in a membrane remains incomplete. Numerous results from different experimental approaches provide very specific constraints on the structure of K(+) channels in functional conformations. These results can be used to go further in trying to picture the native conformation of voltage-gated K(+) channels. However, the direct translation of all the available information into three-dimensional models is not straightforward and many questions about the structure of voltage-activated K(+) channels are still unanswered. Our aim in this review is to summarize the most important pieces of information currently available and to provide a critical assessment of the model of Shaker recently proposed by Lainé et al.

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