Structural models of the KtrB, TrkH, and Trk1,2 symporters based on the structure of the KcsA K(+) channel

Biophys J. 1999 Aug;77(2):789-807. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(99)76932-8.


Three-dimensional computer modeling is used to further investigate the hypothesis forwarded in the accompanying paper of an evolutionary relationship between four related families of K(+) sympoter proteins and the superfamily of K(+) channel proteins. Atomic-scale models are developed for the transmembrane regions of one member from each of the three more distinct symporter families, i.e., a TrkH protein from Escherichia coli, a KtrB protein from Aquifex aeolicus, and a Trk1,2 protein from Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The portions of the four consecutive M1-P-M2 motifs in the symporters that can be aligned with K(+) channel sequences are modeled directly from the recently determined crystal structure of the KcsA K(+) channel from Streptomyces lividans. The remaining portions are developed using our previously accumulated theoretical modeling criteria and principles. Concurrently, the use of these criteria and principles is further supported by the now verified predictions of our previous K(+) channel modeling efforts and the degree to which they are satisfied by the known structure of the KcsA protein. Thus the observed ability of the portions of the symporter models derived from the KcsA crystal structure to also satisfy the theoretical modeling criteria provides additional support for an evolutionary link with K(+) channel proteins. Efforts to further satisfy the criteria and principles suggest that the symporter proteins from fungi and plants (i.e., Trk1,2 and HKT1) form dimeric and/or tetrameric complexes in the membrane. Furthermore, analysis of the atomic-scale models in relation to the sequence conservation within and between the protein families suggests structural details for previously proposed mechanisms for the linked symport of K(+) with Na(+) and H(+). Suggestions are also given for experiments to test these structures and hypotheses.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins*
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Cation Transport Proteins*
  • Electrochemistry
  • Fungal Proteins / chemistry
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Potassium Channels / chemistry*
  • Potassium Channels / genetics
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • KtrB protein, Bacteria
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Potassium Channels
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • TRK2 protein, S cerevisiae
  • prokaryotic potassium channel
  • TRK1 protein, S cerevisiae