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The bacterial channel KirBac1.1 provides a structural homolog of mammalian inward rectifier potassium (Kir) channels. The conformational dynamics of the selectivity filter of Kir channels are of some interest in the context of possible permeation and gating mechanisms for this channel. Molecular dynamics simulations of KirBac have been performed on a 10-ns timescale, i.e., comparable to that of ion permeation. The results of five simulations (total simulation time 50 ns) based on three different initial ion configurations and two different model membranes are reported. These simulation data provide evidence for limited (<0.1 nm) filter flexibility during the concerted motion of ions and water molecules within the filter, such local changes in conformation occurring on an approximately 1-ns timescale. In the absence of K(+) ions, the KirBac selectivity filter undergoes more substantial distortions. These resemble those seen in comparable simulations of other channels (e.g., KcsA and KcsA-based homology models) and are likely to lead to functional closure of the channel. This suggests filter distortions may provide a mechanism of K-channel gating in addition to changes in the hydrophobic gate formed at the intracellular crossing point of the M2 helices. The simulation data also provide evidence for interactions of the "slide" (pre-M1) helix of KirBac with phospholipid headgroups.

Original publication




Journal article


Biophys J

Publication Date





256 - 267


Bacterial Proteins, Computer Simulation, Ion Channel Gating, Models, Molecular, Potassium Channels, Potassium Channels, Inwardly Rectifying, Protein Conformation