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Biophys J. 2006 Oct 15;91(8):2892-900. Epub 2006 Jul 28.

Tuning magnesium sensitivity of BK channels by mutations.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering and Cardiac Bioelectricity and Arrhythmia Center, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63130, USA.


Intracellular Mg(2+) at physiological concentrations activates mSlo1 BK channels by binding to a metal-binding site in the cytosolic domain. Previous studies suggest that residues E374, Q397, and E399 are important in Mg(2+) binding. In the present study, we show that mutations of E374 or E399 to other amino acids, except for Asp, abolish Mg(2+) sensitivity. These results further support that the side chains of E374 and E399 are essential for Mg(2+) coordination. To the contrary, none of the Q397 mutations abolishes Mg(2+) sensitivity, suggesting that its side chain may not coordinate to Mg(2+). However, because Q397 is spatially close to E374 and E399, its mutations affect the Mg(2+) sensitivity of channel gating by either reducing or increasing the Mg(2+) binding affinity. The pattern of mutational effects and the effect of chemical modification of Q397C indicate that Q397 is involved in the Mg(2+)-dependent activation of BK channels and that mutations of Q397 alter Mg(2+) sensitivity by affecting the conformation of the Mg(2+) binding site as well as by electrostatic interactions with the bound Mg(2+) ion.

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