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J Gen Physiol. 1996 Oct;108(4):237-50.

Nonequilibrium gating and voltage dependence of the ClC-0 Cl- channel.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Graduate Department of Biochemistry, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02254, USA.


The gating of ClC-0, the voltage-dependent Cl- channel from Torpedo electric organ, is strongly influenced by Cl- ions in the external solution. Raising external Cl- over the range 1-600 mM favors the fast-gating open state and disfavors the slow-gating inactivated state. Analysis of purified single ClC-0 channels reconstituted into planar lipid bilayers was used to identify the role of Cl- ions in the channel's fast voltage-dependent gating process. External, but not internal, Cl- had a major effect on the channel's opening rate constant. The closing rate was more sensitive to internal Cl- than to external Cl-. Both opening and closing rates varied with voltage. A model was derived that postulates (a) that in the channel's closed state, Cl- is accessible to a site located at the outer end of the conduction pore, where it binds in a voltage-independent fashion, (b) that this closed conformation can open, whether liganded by Cl- or not, in a weakly voltage-dependent fashion, (c) that the Cl(-)-liganded closed channel undergoes a conformational change to a different closed state, such that concomitant with this change, Cl- ion moves inward, conferring voltage-dependence to this step, and (d) that this new Cl(-)-liganded closed state opens with a very high rate. According to this picture, Cl- movement within the pre-open channel is the major source of voltage dependence, and charge movement intrinsic to the channel protein contributes very little to voltage-dependent gating of ClC-0. Moreover, since the Cl- activation site is probably located in the ion conduction pathway, the fast gating of ClC-0 is necessarily coupled to ion conduction, a nonequilibrium process.

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