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Structure. 2008 Mar;16(3):398-409. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2007.12.015.

Structural dynamics of an isolated voltage-sensor domain in a lipid bilayer.

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Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, Center for Integrative Science, University of Chicago, 929 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


A strong interplay between the voltage-sensor domain (VSD) and the pore domain (PD) underlies voltage-gated channel functions. In a few voltage-sensitive proteins, the VSD has been shown to function without a canonical PD, although its structure and oligomeric state remain unknown. Here, using EPR spectroscopy, we show that the isolated VSD of KvAP can remain monomeric in a reconstituted bilayer and retain a transmembrane conformation. We find that water-filled crevices extending deep into the membrane around S3, a scaffold conducive to transport of protons/cations, are intrinsic to the VSD. Differences in solvent accessibility in comparison to the full-length KvAP allowed us to define an interacting footprint of the PD on the VSD. This interaction is centered around S1 and S2 and suggests a rotation of 70 degrees -100 degrees relative to Kv1.2-Kv2.1 chimera. Sequence-conservation patterns in Kv channels, Hv channels, and voltage-sensitive phosphatases reveal several near-universal features suggesting a common molecular architecture for all VSDs.

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