IKs ion-channel pore conductance can result from individual voltage sensor movements
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
The IKs current has an established role in cardiac action potential repolarization, and provides a repolarization reserve at times of stress. The underlying channels are formed from tetramers of KCNQ1 along with one to four KCNE1 accessory subunits, but how these components together gate the IKs complex to open the pore is controversial. Currently, either a concerted movement involving all four subunits of the tetramer or allosteric regulation of open probability through voltage-dependent
... age-dependent subunit activation is thought to precede opening. Here, by using the E160R mutation in KCNQ1 or the F57W mutation in KCNE1 to prevent or impede, respectively, voltage sensors from moving into activated conformations, we demonstrate that a concerted transition of all four subunits after voltage sensor activation is not required for the opening of IKs channels. Tracking voltage sensor movement, via [2-(trimethylammonium)ethyl]methanethiosulfonate bromide (MTSET) modification and fluorescence recordings, shows that E160R-containing voltage sensors do not translocate upon depolarization. E160R, when expressed in all four KCNQ1 subunits, is nonconducting, but if one, two, or three voltage sensors contain the E160R mutation, whole-cell and single-channel currents are still observed in both the presence and absence of KCNE1, and average conductance is reduced proportional to the number of E160R voltage sensors. The data suggest that KCNQ1 + KCNE1 channels gate like KCNQ1 alone. A model of independent voltage sensors directly coupled to open states can simulate experimental changes in IKs current kinetics, including the nonlinear depolarization of the conductance–voltage (G–V) relationship, and tail current acceleration as the number of nonactivatable E160R subunits is increased.