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Gating charge immobilization in Kv4.2 channels: the basis of closed-state inactivation.

Kevin Dougherty, Jose A De Santiago-Castillo, Manuel Covarrubias

J. Gen. Physiol., 2008 Mar , 131, 257-73

Kv4 channels mediate the somatodendritic A-type K+ current (I(SA)) in neurons. The availability of functional Kv4 channels is dynamically regulated by the membrane potential such that subthreshold depolarizations render Kv4 channels unavailable. The underlying process involves inactivation from closed states along the main activation pathway. Although classical inactivation mechanisms such as N- and P/C-type inactivation have been excluded, a clear understanding of closed-state inactivation in Kv4 channels has remained elusive. This is in part due to the lack of crucial information about the interactions between gating charge (Q) movement, activation, and inactivation. To overcome this limitation, we engineered a charybdotoxin (CTX)-sensitive Kv4.2 channel, which enabled us to obtain the first measurements of Kv4.2 gating currents after blocking K+ conduction with CTX (Dougherty and Covarrubias. 2006J. Gen. Physiol. 128:745-753). Here, we exploited this approach further to investigate the mechanism that links closed-state inactivation to slow Q-immobilization in Kv4 channels. The main observations revealed profound Q-immobilization at steady-state over a range of hyperpolarized voltages (-110 to -75 mV). Depolarization in this range moves <5% of the observable Q associated with activation and is insufficient to open the channels significantly. The kinetics and voltage dependence of Q-immobilization and ionic current inactivation between -153 and -47 mV are similar and independent of the channel's proximal N-terminal region (residues 2-40). A coupled state diagram of closed-state inactivation with a quasi-absorbing inactivated state explained the results from ionic and gating current experiments globally. We conclude that Q-immobilization and closed-state inactivation at hyperpolarized voltages are two manifestations of the same process in Kv4.2 channels, and propose that inactivation in the absence of N- and P/C-type mechanisms involves desensitization to voltage resulting from a slow conformational change of the voltage sensors, which renders the channel's main activation gate reluctant to open.