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Nature. 1991 Feb 21;349(6311):700-4.

Alteration of ionic selectivity of a K+ channel by mutation of the H5 region.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford University Medical Center, California 94305-5426.


The high ionic selectivity of K+ channels is a unifying feature of this diverse class of membrane proteins. Though K+ channels differ widely in regulation and kinetics, physiological studies have suggested a common structure: a single file pore containing multiple ion-binding sites and having broader vestibules at both ends. We have used site-directed mutagenesis and single-channel recordings to identify a molecular region that influences ionic selectivity in a cloned A-type K+ channel from Drosophila. Single amino-acid substitutions in H5, the fifth hydrophobic region, enhanced the passage of NH4+ and Rb+, ions with diameters larger than K+, without compromising the ability of the channel to exclude the smaller cation, Na+. The mutations that substantially altered selectivity had little effect on the gating properties of the channel. We conclude that the H5 region is likely to line the pore of the K+ channel.

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