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Biophys J. 1992 Apr;62(1):238-47; discussion 247-50.

Atomic scale structure and functional models of voltage-gated potassium channels.

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Laboratory of Mathematical Biology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Recent mutagenesis experiments have confirmed our hypothesis that a segment between S5 and S6 forms the ion selective portion of voltage-gated ion channels. Based on these and other new data, we have revised previous models of the general folding pattern of voltage-gated channel proteins and have developed atomic scale models of the entire transmembrane region of the Shaker A K+ channel. In these models, the ion selective region is a beta-barrel that spans the outer half of the membrane. The inner half of the pore is larger. The voltage-dependent conformational changes of activation gating are modeled to occur by the "helical screw" mechanism, in which the four S4 segments move along and rotate about their axes. These changes are followed by a voltage-independent conformational change, in which the segments linking S4 to S5 move from blocking the intracellular entrance of the pore to forming part of the lining of the large inner portion of the pore. The NH2-terminal of the protein was modeled as an alpha-helix that plugs the intracellular half of the pore to inactivate the channel.

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