Molecular template for a voltage sensor in a novel K+ channel. III. Functional reconstitution of a sensorless pore module from a prokaryotic Kv channel

J Gen Physiol. 2008 Dec;132(6):651-66. doi: 10.1085/jgp.200810077.


KvLm is a prokaryotic voltage-gated K(+) (Kv) channel from Listeria monocytogenes. The sequence of the voltage-sensing module (transmembrane segments S1-S4) of KvLm is atypical in that it contains only three of the eight conserved charged residues known to be deterministic for voltage sensing in eukaryotic Kv's. In contrast, the pore module (PM), including the S4-S5 linker and cytoplasmic tail (linker-S5-P-S6-C-terminus) of KvLm, is highly conserved. Here, the full-length (FL)-KvLm and the KvLm-PM only proteins were expressed, purified, and reconstituted into giant liposomes. The properties of the reconstituted FL-KvLm mirror well the characteristics of the heterologously expressed channel in Escherichia coli spheroplasts: a right-shifted voltage of activation, micromolar tetrabutylammonium-blocking affinity, and a single-channel conductance comparable to that of eukaryotic Kv's. Conversely, ionic currents through the PM recapitulate both the conductance and blocking properties of the FL-KvLm, yet the KvLm-PM exhibits only rudimentary voltage dependence. Given that the KvLm-PM displays many of the conduction properties of FL-KvLm and of other eukaryotic Kv's, including strict ion selectivity, we conclude that self-assembly of the PM subunits in lipid bilayers, in the absence of the voltage-sensing module, generates a conductive oligomer akin to that of the native KvLm, and that the structural independence of voltage sensing and PMs observed in eukaryotic Kv channels was initially implemented by nature in the design of prokaryotic Kv channels. Collectively, the results indicate that this robust functional module will prove valuable as a molecular template for coupling new sensors and to elucidate PM residue-specific contributions to Kv conduction properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Ion Channel Gating* / genetics
  • Liposomes
  • Listeria monocytogenes / genetics
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Models, Molecular
  • Multiprotein Complexes / genetics
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated / chemistry
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated / genetics
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated / metabolism*
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs / physiology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Liposomes
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated