Gating currents from a nonconducting mutant reveal open-closed conformations in Shaker K+ channels

Neuron. 1993 Aug;11(2):353-8. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(93)90190-3.


In voltage-dependent ion channels, a voltage sensor region is responsible for channel activation and an aqueous pore is responsible for ion conduction. These two processes have been traditionally considered to be independent. We describe here a mutation in the putative pore region (W434F) that completely abolishes ion conduction without affecting the gating charge of the channel. Gating currents in the nonconductive mutant were found to be identical in their kinetic and steady-state properties to those in conductive channels. Gating current measurements could be performed without subtracting pulses and in the presence of normal physiological solutions. Application of internal tetraethylammonium (an open channel blocker) induced Off charge immobilization for large depolarizations, suggesting that the internal tetraethylammonium-binding site becomes available upon depolarization. We concluded that for this mutant, although the conduction pathway is not functional, the channel can still undergo the closed-open conformation in response to voltage changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Drosophila / metabolism*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Ion Channel Gating*
  • Mutation*
  • Potassium Channels / drug effects
  • Potassium Channels / physiology*
  • Tetraethylammonium
  • Tetraethylammonium Compounds / pharmacology


  • Potassium Channels
  • Tetraethylammonium Compounds
  • Tetraethylammonium