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The slow delayed rectifier (IKs) channel is composed of KCNQ1 (pore-forming) and KCNE1 (auxiliary) subunits, and functions as a repolarization reserve in the human heart. Design of IKs-targeting anti-arrhythmic drugs requires detailed three-dimensional structures of the KCNQ1/KCNE1 complex, a task made possible by Kv channel crystal structures (templates for KCNQ1 homology-modeling) and KCNE1 NMR structures. Our goal was to build KCNQ1/KCNE1 models and extract mechanistic information about their interactions by molecular-dynamics simulations in an explicit lipid/solvent environment. We validated our models by confirming two sets of model-generated predictions that were independent from the spatial restraints used in model-building. Detailed analysis of the molecular-dynamics trajectories revealed previously unrecognized KCNQ1/KCNE1 interactions, whose relevance in IKs channel function was confirmed by voltage-clamp experiments. Our models and analyses suggest three mechanisms by which KCNE1 slows KCNQ1 activation: by promoting S6 bending at the Pro hinge that closes the activation gate; by promoting a downward movement of gating charge on S4; and by establishing a network of electrostatic interactions with KCNQ1 on the extracellular surface that stabilizes the channel in a pre-open activated state. Our data also suggest how KCNE1 may affect the KCNQ1 pore conductance.
From The Biophysical Journal, Xu,Y., Wang, Y., Meng, XY et al., Building KCNQ1/KCNE1 Channel Models and Probing their Interactions by Molecular-Dynamics Simulations, Vol. 105, Page 2461. Copyright © 2013 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.
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VCU Physiology and Biophysics Publications