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Independent and cooperative motions of the Kv1.2 channel: voltage sensing and gating.

Adva Yeheskel, Turkan Haliloglu, Nir Ben-Tal

Biophys. J., 2010 May 19 , 98, 2179-88

Voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels, such as Kv1.2, are involved in the generation and propagation of action potentials. The Kv channel is a homotetramer, and each monomer is composed of a voltage-sensing domain (VSD) and a pore domain (PD). We analyzed the fluctuations of a model structure of Kv1.2 using elastic network models. The analysis suggested a network of coupled fluctuations of eight rigid structural units and seven hinges that may control the transition between the active and inactive states of the channel. For the most part, the network is composed of amino acids that are known to affect channel activity. The results suggested allosteric interactions and cooperativity between the subunits in the coupling between the motion of the VSD and the selectivity filter of the PD, in accordance with recent empirical data. There are no direct contacts between the VSDs of the four subunits, and the contacts between these and the PDs are loose, suggesting that the VSDs are capable of functioning independently. Indeed, they manifest many inherent fluctuations that are decoupled from the rest of the structure. In general, the analysis suggests that the two domains contribute to the channel function both individually and cooperatively.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20483326