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Histidine substitution identifies a surface position and confers Cs+ selectivity on a K+ pore.

M De Biasi, J A Drewe, G E Kirsch, A M Brown

Biophys. J., 1993 Sep , 65, 1235-42

The amino acid located at position 369 is a key determinant of the ion conduction pathway or pore of the voltage-gated K+ channels, Kv2.1 and a chimeric channel, CHM, constructed by replacing the pore region of Kv2.1 with that of Kv3.1. To determine the orientation of residue 369 with respect to the aqueous lumen of the pore, the nonpolar Ile at 369 in Kv2.1 was replaced with a basic His. This substitution produced a Cs(+)-selective channel with Cs+:K+ permeability ratio of 4 compared to 0.1 in the wild type. Block by external tetraethylammonium (TEA) was reduced about 20-fold, while block by internal TEA was unaffected. External protons and Zn2+, that are known to interact with the imidazole ring of His, blocked the mutant channel much more effectively than the wild type channel. The blockade by Zn2+ and protons was voltage-independent, and the proton blockade had a pKa of about 6.5, consistent with the pKa for His in solution. The histidyl-specific reagent diethylpyrocarbonate produced greatly exaggerated blockade of the mutated channel compared to the wild type. The residue at position 369 appears to form part of the binding site for external TEA and to influence the selectivity for monovalent cations. We suggest that the imidazole side-chain of His369 is exposed to the aqueous lumen at a surface position near the external mouth of the pore.