Determination of the subunit stoichiometry of a voltage-activated potassium channel

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Abstract

THE voltage-activated K+, Na+ and Ca2+ channels are responsible for the generation and propagation of electrical signals in cell membranes. The K+ channels are multimeric membrane proteins formed by the aggregation of an unknown number of independent subunits1–3. By studying the interaction of a scorpion toxin with coexpressed wild-type and toxin-insensitive mutant Shaker K+ channels, the subunit stoichiometry can be determined. The Shaker K+ channel is found to have a tetrameric structure. This is consistent with the sequence relationship between a K+ channel and each of the four internally homologous repeats of Na+ and Ca2+ channels4–6.

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MacKinnon, R. Determination of the subunit stoichiometry of a voltage-activated potassium channel. Nature 350, 232–235 (1991) doi:10.1038/350232a0

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