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PLoS One. 2014 Jun 5;9(6):e98960. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0098960. eCollection 2014.

The subfamily-specific interaction between Kv2.1 and Kv6.4 subunits is determined by interactions between the N- and C-termini.

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Laboratory for Molecular Biophysics, Physiology and Pharmacology, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.
Laboratory of Cell Biology and Histology, Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.


The "silent" voltage-gated potassium (KvS) channel subunit Kv6.4 does not form electrically functional homotetramers at the plasma membrane but assembles with Kv2.1 subunits, generating functional Kv2.1/Kv6.4 heterotetramers. The N-terminal T1 domain determines the subfamily-specific assembly of Kv1-4 subunits by preventing interactions between subunits that belong to different subfamilies. For Kv6.4, yeast-two-hybrid experiments showed an interaction of the Kv6.4 N-terminus with the Kv2.1 N-terminus, but unexpectedly also with the Kv3.1 N-terminus. We confirmed this interaction by Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) and co-immunoprecipitation (co-IP) using N-terminal Kv3.1 and Kv6.4 fragments. However, full-length Kv3.1 and Kv6.4 subunits do not form heterotetramers at the plasma membrane. Therefore, additional interactions between the Kv6.4 and Kv2.1 subunits should be important in the Kv2.1/Kv6.4 subfamily-specificity. Using FRET and co-IP approaches with N- and C-terminal fragments we observed that the Kv6.4 C-terminus physically interacts with the Kv2.1 N-terminus but not with the Kv3.1 N-terminus. The N-terminal amino acid sequence CDD which is conserved between Kv2 and KvS subunits appeared to be a key determinant since charge reversals with arginine substitutions abolished the interaction between the N-terminus of Kv2.1 and the C-terminus of both Kv2.1 and Kv6.4. In addition, the Kv6.4(CKv3.1) chimera in which the C-terminus of Kv6.4 was replaced by the corresponding domain of Kv3.1, disrupted the assembly with Kv2.1. These results indicate that the subfamily-specific Kv2.1/Kv6.4 heterotetramerization is determined by interactions between Kv2.1 and Kv6.4 that involve both the N- and C-termini in which the conserved N-terminal CDD sequence plays a key role.

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