The mechanism of ion conduction by potassium channels is one of the central issues in physiology. In particular, it is still unclear how the ion concentration and the membrane voltage drive ion conduction. We have investigated the dynamics of the ion conduction processes in the Kv1.2 pore domain, by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations with several different voltages and ion concentrations. By focusing on the detailed ion movements through the pore including selectivity filter (SF) and cavity, we found two major conduction mechanisms, called the III-IV-III and III-II-III mechanisms, and the balance between the ion concentration and the voltage determines the mechanism preference. In the III-IV-III mechanism, the outermost ion in the pore is pushed out by a new ion coming from the intracellular fluid, and four-ion states were transiently observed. In the III-II-III mechanism, the outermost ion is pulled out first, without pushing by incoming ions. Increases in the ion concentration and voltage accelerated ion conductions, but their mechanisms were different. The increase in the ion concentrations facilitated the III-IV-III conductions, while the higher voltages increased the III-II-III conductions, indicating that the pore domain of potassium channels permeates ions by using two different driving forces: a push by intracellular ions and a pull by voltage.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)