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Neuron. 1995 Jun;14(6):1293-301.

Electrostatic interactions of S4 voltage sensor in Shaker K+ channel.

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Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles 90024, USA.


The S4 segment comprises part of the voltage sensor in Shaker K+ channels. We have used a strategy similar to intragenic suppression, but without a genetic selection, to identify electrostatic interactions of the S4 segment that may be important in the mechanism of voltage-dependent activation. The S4 neutralization mutations K374Q and R377Q block maturation of the protein, suggesting that they prevent proper folding. K374Q is specifically and efficiently rescued by the second site mutations E293Q and D316N, located in putative transmembrane segments S2 and S3, respectively. These results suggest that K374, E293, and D316 form a network of strong, local, electrostatic interactions that stabilize the structure of the channel. Some other double mutant combinations result in inefficient suppression, identifying weak, presumably long-range electrostatic interactions. A simple structural hypothesis is proposed to account for the effects of the rescued double mutant combinations on the relative stabilities of open and closed channel conformations.

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