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Allosteric Control of Gating Mechanisms Revisited: The Large Conductance Ca2+-Activated K+ Channel

By Rafael A. Rosales and Wamberto A. Varanda


Large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels (BK) play a fundamental role in modulating membrane potential in many cell types. The gating of BK channels and its modulation by Ca2+ and voltage has been the subject of intensive research over almost three decades, yielding several of the most complicated kinetic mechanisms ever proposed. A large number of open and closed states disposed, respectively, in two planes, named tiers, characterize these mechanisms. Transitions between states in the same plane are cooperative and modulated by Ca2+. Transitions across planes are highly concerted and voltage-dependent. Here we reexamine the validity of the two-tiered hypothesis by restricting attention to the modulation by Ca2+. Large single channel data sets at five Ca2+ concentrations were simultaneously analyzed from a Bayesian perspective by using hidden Markov models and Markov-chain Monte Carlo stochastic integration techniques. Our results support a dramatic reduction in model complexity, favoring a simple mechanism derived from the Monod-Wyman-Changeux allosteric model for homotetramers, able to explain the Ca2+ modulation of the gating process. This model differs from the standard Monod-Wyman-Changeux scheme in that one distinguishes when two Ca2+ ions are bound to adjacent or diagonal subunits of the tetramer

Topics: Biophysical Theory and Modeling
Publisher: The Biophysical Society
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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