Voltage-gated K channels co-assemble with auxiliary Β subunits to form macromolecular complexes. In heart, assembly of Kv7.1 pore-forming subunits with KCNE1 Β subunits generates the repolarizing K current I KS. However, the detailed nature of their interface remains unknown. Mutations in either Kv7.1 or KCNE1 produce the life-threatening long or short QT syndromes. Here, we studied the interactions and voltage-dependent motions of I KS channel intracellular domains, using fluorescence resonance energy transfer combined with voltage-clamp recording and in vitro binding of purified proteins. The results indicate that the KCNE1 distal C-terminus interacts with the coiled-coil helix C of the Kv7.1 tetramerization domain. This association is important for I KS channel assembly rules as underscored by Kv7.1 current inhibition produced by a dominant-negative C-terminal domain. On channel opening, the C-termini of Kv7.1 and KCNE1 come close together. Co-expression of Kv7.1 with the KCNE1 long QT mutant D76N abolished the K currents and gated motions. Thus, during channel gating KCNE1 is not static. Instead, the C-termini of both subunits experience molecular motions, which are disrupted by the D76N causing disease mutation.
- Channel assembly
- Potassium channel