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J Biol Chem. 2013 Feb 8;288(6):4378-88. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.388629. Epub 2012 Dec 6.

Domain organization of the ATP-sensitive potassium channel complex examined by fluorescence resonance energy transfer.

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Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


K(ATP) channels link cell metabolism to excitability in many cells. They are formed as tetramers of Kir6.2 subunits, each associated with a SUR1 subunit. We used mutant GFP-based FRET to assess domain organization in channel complexes. Full-length Kir6.2 subunits were linked to YFP or cyan fluorescent protein (CFP) at N or C termini, and all such constructs, including double-tagged YFP-Kir6.2-CFP (Y6.2C), formed functional K(ATP) channels. In intact COSm6 cells, background emission of YFP excited by 430-nm light was ∼6%, but the Y6.2C construct expressed alone exhibited an apparent FRET efficiency of ∼25%, confirmed by trypsin digestion, with or without SUR1 co-expression. Similar FRET efficiency was detected in mixtures of CFP- and YFP-tagged full-length Kir6.2 subunits and transmembrane domain only constructs, when tagged at the C termini but not at the N termini. The FRET-reported Kir6.2 tetramer domain organization was qualitatively consistent with Kir channel crystal structures: C termini and M2 domains are centrally located relative to N termini and M1 domains, respectively. Additional FRET analyses were performed on cells in which tagged full-length Kir6.2 and tagged SUR1 constructs were co-expressed. These analyses further revealed that 1) NBD1 of SUR1 is closer to the C terminus of Kir6.2 than to the N terminus; 2) the Kir6.2 cytoplasmic domain is not essential for complexation with SUR1; and 3) the N-terminal half of SUR1 can complex with itself in the absence of either the C-terminal half or Kir6.2.

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