The size of gating charge in wild-type and mutant Shaker potassium channels

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Science  27 Mar 1992:
Vol. 255, Issue 5052, pp. 1712-1715
DOI: 10.1126/science.1553560


The high sensitivity of voltage-gated ion channels to changes in membrane potential implies that the process of channel opening is accompanied by large charge movements. Previous estimates of the total charge displacement, q, have been deduced from the voltage dependence of channel activation and have ranged from 4 to 8 elementary charges (e0). A more direct measurement of q in Drosophila melanogaster Shaker 29-4 potassium channels yields a q value of 12.3 e0. A similar q value is obtained from mutated Shaker channels having reduced voltage sensitivity. These results can be explained by a model for channel activation in which the equilibria of voltage-dependent steps are altered in the mutant channels.