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Divalent cations slow activation of EAG family K+ channels through direct binding to S4.

Xiaofei Zhang, Badry Bursulaya, Christian C Lee, Bihan Chen, Kendra Pivaroff, Timothy Jegla

Biophys. J., 2009 Jul 8 , 97, 110-20

Voltage-gated K+ channels share a common voltage sensor domain (VSD) consisting of four transmembrane helices, including a highly mobile S4 helix that contains the major gating charges. Activation of ether-a-go-go (EAG) family K+ channels is sensitive to external divalent cations. We show here that divalent cations slow the activation rate of two EAG family channels (Kv12.1 and Kv10.2) by forming a bridge between a residue in the S4 helix and acidic residues in S2. Histidine 328 in the S4 of Kv12.1 favors binding of Zn2+ and Cd2+, whereas the homologous residue Serine 321 in Kv10.2 contributes to effects of Mg2+ and Ni2+. This novel finding provides structural constraints for the position of transmembrane VSD helices in closed, ion-bound EAG family channels. Homology models of Kv12.1 and Kv10.2 VSD structures based on a closed-state model of the Shaker family K+ channel Kv1.2 match these constraints. Our results suggest close conformational conservation between closed EAG and Shaker family channels, despite large differences in voltage sensitivity, activation rates, and activation thresholds.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19580749