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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Jul;1818(7):1726-36.

Coupling between the voltage-sensing and pore domains in a voltage-gated potassium channel.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-2025, USA.


Voltage-dependent potassium (Kv), sodium (Nav), and calcium channels open and close in response to changes in transmembrane (TM) potential, thus regulating cell excitability by controlling ion flow across the membrane. An outstanding question concerning voltage gating is how voltage-induced conformational changes of the channel voltage-sensing domains (VSDs) are coupled through the S4-S5 interfacial linking helices to the opening and closing of the pore domain (PD). To investigate the coupling between the VSDs and the PD, we generated a closed Kv channel configuration from Aeropyrum pernix (KvAP) using atomistic simulations with experiment-based restraints on the VSDs. Full closure of the channel required, in addition to the experimentally determined TM displacement, that the VSDs be displaced both inwardly and laterally around the PD. This twisting motion generates a tight hydrophobic interface between the S4-S5 linkers and the C-terminal ends of the pore domain S6 helices in agreement with available experimental evidence.

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