The functional properties of KCNQ1 channels are highly dependent on associated KCNE-β subunits. Mutations in KCNQ1 or KCNE subunits can cause congenital channelopathies, such as deafness, cardiac arrhythmias and epilepsy. The mechanism by which KCNE1-β subunits slow the kinetics of KCNQ1 channels is a matter of current controversy. Here we show that KCNQ1/KCNE1 channel activation occurs in two steps: first, mutually independent voltage sensor movements in the four KCNQ1 subunits generate the main gating charge movement and underlie the initial delay in the activation time course of KCNQ1/KCNE1 currents. Second, a slower and concerted conformational change of all four voltage sensors and the gate, which opens the KCNQ1/KCNE1 channel. Our data show that KCNE1 divides the voltage sensor movement into two steps with widely different voltage dependences and kinetics. The two voltage sensor steps in KCNQ1/KCNE1 channels can be pharmacologically isolated and further separated by a disease-causing mutation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)