PubMed 10998042

Title: Gating of inward-rectifier K+ channels by intracellular pH.

Authors: U Schulte, B Fakler

Journal, date & volume: Eur. J. Biochem., 2000 Oct , 267, 5837-41

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Inward rectifier K+ channels of the Kir1.1 (ROMK) and Kir4.1 subtype are predominantly expressed in epithelial cells where they are responsible for K+ transport across the plasma membrane. Uniquely among the members of the Kir family, these channels are gated by intracellular pH in the physiological range. pH-gating involves structural rearrangements in cytoplasmic domains and the P-loop of the Kir protein. The energy for the gating transition is delivered by protonation of a lysine residue that is located prior to the first transmembrane segment and serves as a 'pH sensor'. The anomalous titration required for lysine operating in the neutral pH range results from its close interaction with two positively charged arginines from the distant N- and C-termini termed the R/K/R triad. Disturbance of this triad as results from a number of point mutations found in patients with hyperprostaglandin E syndrome (HPS) increases the pKa of the pH sensor and results in channels being permanently inactivated under physiological conditions. This article will focus on the mechanism of pH-gating, its implications for the tertiary structure of Kir proteins and on its significance for the pathogenesis of HPS.