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Neuron. 1996 May;16(5):1037-47.

Depth asymmetries of the pore-lining segments of the Na+ channel revealed by cysteine mutagenesis.

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Departments of Medicine and Biochemical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


We used serial cysteine mutagenesis to study the structure of the outer vestibule and selectivity region of the voltage-gated Na channel. The voltage dependence of Cd(2+) block enabled us to determine the locations within the electrical field of cysteine-substituted mutants in the P segments of all four domains. The fractional electrical distances of the substituted cysteines were compared with the differential sensitivity to modification by sulfhydryl-specific modifying reagents. These experiments indicate that the P segment of domain II is external, while the domain IV P segment is displaced internally, compared with the first and third domain P segments. Sulfhydryls with a steep voltage dependence for Cd(2+) block produced changes in monovalent cation selectivity; these included substitutions at the presumed selectivity filter, as well as residues in the domain IV P segment not previously recognized as determinants of selectivity. A new structural model is presented in which each of the P segments contribute unique loops that penetrate the membrane to varying depths to form the channel pore.

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