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Biophys J. 1994 Apr;66(4):1011-21.

Gating of Shaker K+ channels: II. The components of gating currents and a model of channel activation.

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Department of Physiology, University of California at Los Angeles 90024.


Steady-state and kinetic properties of gating currents of the Shaker K+ channels were studied in channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes and recorded with the cut-open oocyte voltage clamp. The charge versus potential (Q-V) curve reveals at least two components of charge, the first moving in the hyperpolarized region (V1/2 = -63 mV) and the second, with a larger apparent valence, moving in the more depolarized region (V1/2 = -44 mV). The kinetic analysis of gating currents revealed also two exponential decaying components that corresponded in their voltage dependence with the charge components described in the steady-state. The first component was found to correlate with the effects of prepulses that produce the Cole-Moore shift of the ionic and gating currents and seems to be occurring completely within closed conformations of the channel. The second component seems to be related to the events occurring between the closed states just preceding, but not including, the transition to the open state. The ON and OFF gating currents exhibit a pronounced rising phase at potentials at which the second component becomes important, and this region corresponds to the potential range where the channel opens. The results could not be explained with simple parallel models, but the data can be fitted to a sequential model that could be related to a first rearrangement of the putative four subunits in cooperative fashion, followed by a concerted charge movement that leads to the open channel. The first series of charge movements are produced by transitions between several closed states carrying less than two electronic charges per step, while a step carrying about 3.5 electronic charges can explain the second component. This step is followed by the transition to the open state carrying less than 0.5 electronic charges. This model is able to reproduce all the kinetic and steady-state properties of the gating currents and predicts many of the properties of the ionic currents.

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