Regional flexibility in the S4-S5 linker regulates hERG channel closed-state stabilization

Pflugers Arch. 2014 Oct;466(10):1911-9. doi: 10.1007/s00424-013-1431-9. Epub 2014 Jan 10.


hERG K(+) channel function is vital for normal cardiac rhythm, yet the mechanisms underlying the unique biophysical characteristics of the channel, such as slow activation and deactivation gating, are incompletely understood. The S4-S5 linker is thought to transduce voltage sensor movement to opening of the pore gate, but may also integrate signals from cytoplasmic domains. Previously, we showed that substitutions of G546 within the S4-S5 linker destabilize the closed state of the channel. Here, we present results of a glycine-scan in the background of 546L. We demonstrate site-specific restoration of WT-like activation which suggests that flexibility in the N-terminal portion of the S4-S5 linker is critical for the voltage dependence of hERG channel activation. In addition, we show that the voltage dependence of deactivation, which was recently shown to be left-shifted from that of activation due to voltage sensor mode-shift, is also modulated by the S4-S5 linker. The G546L mutation greatly attenuated the coupling of voltage sensor mode-shift to the pore gate without altering the mode-shift itself. Indeed, all of the S4-S5 linker mutations tested similarly reduced coupling of the mode-shift to the pore gate. These data demonstrate a key role for S4-S5 linker in the unique activation and deactivation gating of hERG channels. Furthermore, uncoupling of the mode-shift to the pore by S4-S5 linker mutations parallels the effects of mutations in the N-terminus suggestive of functional interactions between the two regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • ERG1 Potassium Channel
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels / chemistry
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels / genetics
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Xenopus


  • ERG1 Potassium Channel
  • Ether-A-Go-Go Potassium Channels
  • KCNH2 protein, human