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Sci Rep. 2016 Feb 12;6:21493. doi: 10.1038/srep21493.

A synergistic blocking effect of Mg²⁺ and spermine on the inward rectifier K⁺ (Kir2.1) channel pore.

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Department of Physiology, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Neurology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.


Inward rectifier K(+) channels (Kir2.1) exhibit an extraordinary rectifying feature in the current-voltage relationship. We have previously showed that the bundle-crossing region of the transmembrane domain constitutes the crucial segment responsible for the polyamine block. In this study, we demonstrated that the major blocking effect of intracellular Mg(2+) on Kir2.1 channels is also closely correlated with K(+) current flow, and the coupled movements of Mg(2+) and K(+) seem to happen in the same flux-coupling segment of the pore as polyamines. With a preponderant outward K(+) flow, intracellular Mg(2+) would also be pushed to and thus stay at the outermost site of a flux-coupling segment in the bundle-crossing region of Kir2.1 channels to block the pore, although with a much lower apparent affinity than spermine (SPM). However, in contrast to the evident possibilities of outward exit of SPM through the channel pore especially during strong membrane depolarization, intracellular Mg(2+) does not seem to traverse the Kir2.1 channel pore in any case. Intracellular Mg(2+) and SPM therefore may have a synergistic action on the pore-blocking effect, presumably via prohibition of the outward exit of the higher-affinity blocking SPM by the lower-affinity Mg(2+).

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