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FEBS Lett. 2010 Mar 19;584(6):1133-8. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2010.02.015. Epub 2010 Feb 12.

Design and characterization of a constitutively open KcsA.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


The molecular nature of the structure responsible for proton sensitivity in KcsA has been identified as a charge cluster that surrounds the inner helical bundle gate. Here, we show that this proton sensor can be modified to engineer a constitutively open form of KcsA, amenable to functional, spectroscopic and structural analyses. By combining charge neutralizations for all acidic and basic residues in the cluster at positions 25, 117-122 and 124 (but not E118), a mutant KcsA is generated that displays constitutively open channel activity up to pH 9. The structure of this mutant revealed that full opening appears to be inhibited by lattice forces since the activation gate seems to be only on the early stages of opening.

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