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J Gen Physiol. 1997 Oct;110(4):391-401.

Sodium channel activation gating is affected by substitutions of voltage sensor positive charges in all four domains.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Irvine, California 92697-4025, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Gen Physiol 1997 Dec;110(6):763.


The role of the voltage sensor positive charges in the activation and deactivation gating of the rat brain IIA sodium channel was investigated by mutating the second and fourth conserved positive charges in the S4 segments of all four homologous domains. Both charge-neutralizing (by glutamine substitution) and -conserving mutations were constructed in a cDNA encoding the sodium channel alpha subunit that had fast inactivation removed by the incorporation of the IFMQ3 mutation in the III-IV linker (West, J.W., D.E. Patton, T. Scheuer, Y. Wang, A.L. Goldin, and W.A. Catterall. 1992. 89:10910-10914.). A total of 16 single and 2 double mutants were constructed and analyzed with respect to voltage dependence and kinetics of activation and deactivation. The most significant effects were observed with substitutions of the fourth positive charge in each domain. Neutralization of the fourth positive charge in domain I or II produced the largest shifts in the voltage dependence of activation, both in the positive direction. This change was accompanied by positive shifts in the voltage dependence of activation and deactivation kinetics. Combining the two mutations resulted in an even larger positive shift in half-maximal activation and a significantly reduced gating valence, together with larger positive shifts in the voltage dependence of activation and deactivation kinetics. In contrast, neutralization of the fourth positive charge in domain III caused a negative shift in the voltage of half-maximal activation, while the charge-conserving mutation resulted in a positive shift. Neutralization of the fourth charge in domain IV did not shift the half-maximal voltage of activation, but the conservative substitution produced a positive shift. These data support the idea that both charge and structure are determinants of function in S4 voltage sensors. Overall, the data supports a working model in which all four S4 segments contribute to voltage-dependent activation of the sodium channel.

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