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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Nov 21;103(47):17991-6. Epub 2006 Nov 13.

Na channel inactivation from open and closed states.

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Department of Physiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6085, USA.


A sodium channel is composed of four similar domains, each containing a highly charged S4 helix that is driven outward (activates) in response to a depolarization. Functionally, the channel has two gates, called activation gate (a gate) and inactivation gate (I gate), both of which must be open for conduction to occur. The cytoplasmically located a gate opens after a depolarization has activated the S4s of (probably) all four domains. The I gate consists of a cytoplasmically located inactivation "particle" and a receptor for it in the channel. The receptor becomes available after some degree of S4 activation, and the particle diffuses in to inactivate the channel. The I gate usually closes when the a gate is open [open-state inactivation (Osi)] but also can close before the channel reaches the conducting state. This "closed-state inactivation" (Csi) is studied quantitatively in this paper to determine the degree of S4 activation required for (i) opening the a gate, and (ii) permitting the I gate to close. Csi is most prominent for small depolarizations, during which occupancy of the partially activated closed states is prolonged. Large depolarizations drive the S4s outward quickly, minimizing the duration of closed-state occupancy and making Csi small and Osi large. Based on these data and evidence in the literature, it is concluded that opening the a gate requires S4 activation in domains 1-3, with partial activation of the S4 of domain 4. Csi requires only S4 activation of domains 3 and 4, which does not open the a gate.

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