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Shaker potassium channel gating. III: Evaluation of kinetic models for activation.

W N Zagotta, T Hoshi, R W Aldrich

J. Gen. Physiol., 1994 Feb , 103, 321-62

Predictions of different classes of gating models involving identical conformational changes in each of four subunits were compared to the gating behavior of Shaker potassium channels without N-type inactivation. Each model was tested to see if it could simulate the voltage dependence of the steady state open probability, and the kinetics of the single-channel currents, macroscopic ionic currents and macroscopic gating currents using a single set of parameters. Activation schemes based upon four identical single-step activation processes were found to be incompatible with the experimental results, as were those involving a concerted, opening transition. A model where the opening of the channel requires two conformational changes in each of the four subunits can adequately account for the steady state and kinetic behavior of the channel. In this model, the gating in each subunit is independent except for a stabilization of the open state when all four subunits are activated, and an unstable closed conformation that the channel enters after opening. A small amount of negative cooperativity between the subunits must be added to account quantitatively for the dependence of the activation time course on holding voltage.