Interaction of KCNE subunits with the KCNQ1 K+ channel pore

J Physiol. 2006 Feb 1;570(Pt 3):455-67. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2005.100644. Epub 2005 Nov 24.


KCNQ1 alpha subunits form functionally distinct potassium channels by coassembling with KCNE ancillary subunits MinK and MiRP2. MinK-KCNQ1 channels generate the slowly activating, voltage-dependent cardiac IKs current. MiRP2-KCNQ1 channels form a constitutively active current in the colon. The structural basis for these contrasting channel properties, and the mechanisms of alpha subunit modulation by KCNE subunits, are not fully understood. Here, scanning mutagenesis located a tryptophan-tolerant region at positions 338-340 within the KCNQ1 pore-lining S6 domain, suggesting an exposed region possibly amenable to interaction with transmembrane ancillary subunits. This hypothesis was tested using concomitant mutagenesis in KCNQ1 and in the membrane-localized 'activation triplet' regions of MinK and MiRP2 to identify pairs of residues that interact to control KCNQ1 activation. Three pairs of mutations exerted dramatic effects, ablating channel function or either removing or restoring control of KCNQ1 activation. The results place KCNE subunits close to the KCNQ1 pore, indicating interaction of MiRP2-72 with KCNQ1-338; and MinK-59,58 with KCNQ1-339, 340. These data are consistent either with perturbation of the S6 domain by MinK or MiRP2, dissimilar positioning of MinK and MiRP2 within the channel complex, or both. Further, the results suggest specifically that two of the interactions, MiRP2-72/KCNQ1-338 and MinK-58/KCNQ1-340, are required for the contrasting gating effects of MinK and MiRP2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating / physiology*
  • KCNQ1 Potassium Channel / chemistry
  • KCNQ1 Potassium Channel / genetics
  • KCNQ1 Potassium Channel / metabolism*
  • Mutagenesis
  • Oocytes
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated / chemistry
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated / genetics
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated / metabolism*
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • Tryptophan / genetics
  • Xenopus laevis


  • KCNE1 protein, human
  • KCNE3 protein, human
  • KCNQ1 Potassium Channel
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated
  • Protein Subunits
  • Tryptophan