PubMed 22025703

Referenced in Channelpedia wiki pages of: none

Automatically associated channels: SK1 , SK2 , SK3

Title: Crucial role of a shared extracellular loop in apamin sensitivity and maintenance of pore shape of small-conductance calcium-activated potassium (SK) channels.

Authors: Kate L Weatherall, Vincent Seutin, Jean-François Liégeois, Neil V Marrion

Journal, date & volume: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 2011 Nov 8 , 108, 18494-9

PubMed link:

Activation of small-conductance calcium (Ca(2+))-dependent potassium (K(Ca)2) channels (herein called "SK") produces membrane hyperpolarization to regulate membrane excitability. Three subtypes (SK1-3) have been cloned and are distributed throughout the nervous system, smooth muscle, and heart. It is difficult to discern the physiological role of individual channel subtypes as most blockers or enhancers do not discriminate between subtypes. The archetypical blocker apamin displays some selectivity between SK channel subtypes, with SK2 being the most sensitive, followed by SK3 and then SK1. Sensitivity of SK1 is species specific, with the human isoform being blocked by the toxin, whereas the rat is not. Mutation studies have identified residues within the outer pore that suggest apamin blocks by an allosteric mechanism. Apamin also uses a residue within the S3-S4 extracellular loop to produce a high-sensitivity block. We have identified that a 3-amino acid motif within this loop regulates the shape of the channel pore. This motif is required for binding and block by apamin, suggesting that a change in pore shape underlies allosteric block. This motif is absent in rat SK1, explaining why it is insensitive to block by apamin. The overlapping distribution of SK channel subtype expression suggests that native heteromeric channels may be common. We show that the S3-S4 loop of one subunit overlaps the outer pore of the adjacent subunit, with apamin interacting with both regions. This arrangement provides a unique binding site for each combination of SK subunits within a coassembled channel that may be targeted to produce blockers specific for heteromeric SK channels.