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Cooperative transition between open and closed conformations in potassium channels.


ABSTRACT: Potassium (K+) ion channels switch between open and closed conformations. The nature of this important transition was revealed by comparing the X-ray crystal structures of the MthK channel from Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum, obtained in its open conformation, and the KcsA channel from Streptomyces lividans, obtained in its closed conformation. We analyzed the dynamic characteristics and energetics of these homotetrameric structures in order to study the role of the intersubunit cooperativity in this transition. For this, elastic models and in silico alanine-scanning mutagenesis were used, respectively. Reassuringly, the calculations manifested motion from the open (closed) towards the closed (open) conformation. The calculations also revealed a network of dynamically and energetically coupled residues. Interestingly, the network suggests coupling between the selectivity filter and the gate, which are located at the two ends of the channel pore. Coupling between these two regions was not observed in calculations that were conducted with the monomer, which emphasizes the importance of the intersubunit interactions within the tetrameric structure for the cooperative gating behavior of the channel.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC2528004 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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