P-loop flexibility in Na+ channel pores revealed by single- and double-cysteine replacements

J Gen Physiol. 1997 Jul;110(1):59-72. doi: 10.1085/jgp.110.1.59.


Replacement of individual P-loop residues with cysteines in rat skeletal muscle Na+ channels (SkM1) caused an increased sensitivity to current blockade by Cd2+ thus allowing detection of residues lining the pore. Simultaneous replacement of two residues in distinct P-loops created channels with enhanced and reduced sensitivity to Cd2+ block relative to the individual single mutants, suggesting coordinated Cd2+ binding and cross-linking by the inserted sulfhydryl pairs. Double-mutant channels with reduced sensitivity to Cd2+ block showed enhanced sensitivity after the application of sulfhydryl reducing agents. These results allow identification of residue pairs capable of approaching one another to within less than 3.5 A. We often observed that multiple consecutive adjacent residues in one P-loop could coordinately bind Cd2+ with a single residue in another P-loop. These results suggest that, on the time-scale of Cd2+ binding to mutant Na+ channels, P-loops show a high degree of flexibility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cadmium / pharmacology
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Oocytes
  • Rats
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Sodium Channel Blockers
  • Sodium Channels / genetics*
  • Sodium Channels / physiology*
  • Xenopus


  • Sodium Channel Blockers
  • Sodium Channels
  • Cadmium