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The electrically silent Kv6.4 subunit confers hyperpolarized gating charge movement in Kv2.1/Kv6.4 heterotetrameric channels.

Elke Bocksteins, Alain J Labro, Dirk J Snyders, Durga P Mohapatra

PLoS ONE, 2012 , 7, e37143

The voltage-gated K(+) (Kv) channel subunit Kv6.4 does not form functional homotetrameric channels but co-assembles with Kv2.1 to form functional Kv2.1/Kv6.4 heterotetrameric channels. Compared to Kv2.1 homotetramers, Kv6.4 exerts a ~40 mV hyperpolarizing shift in the voltage-dependence of Kv2.1/Kv6.4 channel inactivation, without a significant effect on activation gating. However, the underlying mechanism of this Kv6.4-induced modulation of Kv2.1 channel inactivation, and whether the Kv6.4 subunit participates in the voltage-dependent gating of heterotetrameric channels is not well understood. Here we report distinct gating charge movement of Kv2.1/Kv6.4 heterotetrameric channels, compared to Kv2.1 homotetramers, as revealed by gating current recordings from mammalian cells expressing these channels. The gating charge movement of Kv2.1/Kv6.4 heterotetrameric channels displayed an extra component around the physiological K(+) equilibrium potential, characterized by a second sigmoidal relationship of the voltage-dependence of gating charge movement. This distinct gating charge displacement reflects movement of the Kv6.4 voltage-sensing domain and has a voltage-dependency that matches the hyperpolarizing shift in Kv2.1/Kv6.4 channel inactivation. These results provide a mechanistic basis for the modulation of Kv2.1 channel inactivation gating kinetics by silent Kv6.4 subunits.