Delemotte L, Tarek M, Klein ML, Amaral C, Treptow W
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (15) 6109-6114 [2011-04-12; online 2011-03-28]
The response of a membrane-bound Kv1.2 ion channel to an applied transmembrane potential has been studied using molecular dynamics simulations. Channel deactivation is shown to involve three intermediate states of the voltage sensor domain (VSD), and concomitant movement of helix S4 charges 10-15 Å along the bilayer normal; the latter being enabled by zipper-like sequential pairing of S4 basic residues with neighboring VSD acidic residues and membrane-lipid head groups. During the observed sequential transitions S4 basic residues pass through the recently discovered charge transfer center with its conserved phenylalanine residue, F(233). Analysis indicates that the local electric field within the VSD is focused near the F(233) residue and that it remains essentially unaltered during the entire process. Overall, the present computations provide an atomistic description of VSD response to hyperpolarization, add support to the sliding helix model, and capture essential features inferred from a variety of recent experiments.