PubMed 2052588

Title: Tetraethylammonium blockade distinguishes two inactivation mechanisms in voltage-activated K+ channels.

Authors: K L Choi, R W Aldrich, G Yellen

Journal, date & volume: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 1991 Jun 15 , 88, 5092-5

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Voltage-activated K+ channels are a family of closely related membrane proteins that differ in their gating behavior, conductance, and pharmacology. A prominent and physiologically important difference among K+ channels is their rate of inactivation. Inactivation rates range from milliseconds to seconds, and K+ channels with different inactivation properties have very different effects on signal integration and repetitive firing properties of neurons. The cloned Shaker B (H4) potassium channel is an example of a K+ channel that inactivates in a few milliseconds. Recent experiments have shown that removal of an N-terminal region of the Shaker protein by site-directed deletion practically abolishes this fast inactivation, but the modified channel does still inactivate during a prolonged depolarization lasting many seconds. Here we report that this remnant inactivation must occur by a distinct mechanism from the rapid inactivation of the wild-type Shaker channel. Like the inactivation of another K+ channel [Grissmer, S. & Calahan, M. (1989) Biophys. J. 55, 203-206], this slow inactivation is retarded by the application of a channel blocker, tetraethylammonium, to the extracellular side of the channel. By contrast, the fast inactivation of the wild-type Shaker channel is sensitive only to intracellular application of tetraethylammonium. Intracellular tetraethylammonium slows down the fast inactivation process, as though it competes with the binding of the inactivation particle.