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Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 2;6:19893. doi: 10.1038/srep19893.

Effective pore size and radius of capture for K(+) ions in K-channels.

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Centro Interdisciplinario de Neurociencia de Valparaíso, Universidad de Valparaíso, Playa Ancha Valparaíso, Chile.
Universidad Andrés Bello, Center for Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology, Santiago, Chile and Fundación Fraunhofer-Chile, Las Condes, Chile.


Reconciling protein functional data with crystal structure is arduous because rare conformations or crystallization artifacts occur. Here we present a tool to validate the dimensions of open pore structures of potassium-selective ion channels. We used freely available algorithms to calculate the molecular contour of the pore to determine the effective internal pore radius (r(E)) in several K-channel crystal structures. r(E) was operationally defined as the radius of the biggest sphere able to enter the pore from the cytosolic side. We obtained consistent r(E) estimates for MthK and Kv1.2/2.1 structures, with r(E) = 5.3-5.9 Å and r(E) = 4.5-5.2 Å, respectively. We compared these structural estimates with functional assessments of the internal mouth radii of capture (r(C)) for two electrophysiological counterparts, the large conductance calcium activated K-channel (r(C) = 2.2 Å) and the Shaker Kv-channel (r(C) = 0.8 Å), for MthK and Kv1.2/2.1 structures, respectively. Calculating the difference between r(E) and r(C), produced consistent size radii of 3.1-3.7 Å and 3.6-4.4 Å for hydrated K(+) ions. These hydrated K(+) estimates harmonize with others obtained with diverse experimental and theoretical methods. Thus, these findings validate MthK and the Kv1.2/2.1 structures as templates for open BK and Kv-channels, respectively.

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