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Bacterial homologues of mammalian potassium channels provide structures of two states of a gated K channel. Thus, the crystal structure of KcsA represents a closed state whilst that of MthK represents an open state. Using homology modelling and molecular dynamics simulations we have built a model of the transmembrane domain of KcsA in an open state and have compared its conformational stability with that of the same domain of KcsA in a closed state. Approximate Born energy calculations of monovalent cations within the two KcsA channel states suggest that the intracellular hydrophobic gate in the closed state provides a barrier of height approximately 5 kT to ion permeation, whilst in the open state the barrier is absent. Simulations (10 ns duration) in an octane slab (a simple membrane mimetic) suggest that closed- and open-state models are of comparable conformational stability, both exhibiting conformational drifts of approximately 3.3 A Calpha RMSD relative to the respective starting models. Substantial conformational fluctuations are observed in the intracellular gate region during both simulations (closed state and open state). In the simulation of open-state KcsA, rapid ( < 5 ns) exit of all three K+ ions occurs through the intracellular mouth of the channel. Helix kink and swivel motion is observed at the molecular hinge formed by residue G99 of the M2 helix. This motion is more substantial for the open- than for the closed-state model of the channel.

Original publication




Conference paper

Publication Date





238 - 246


Animals, Bacterial Proteins, Computer Simulation, Crystallography, X-Ray, Humans, Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions, Models, Molecular, Permeability, Potassium Channels, Prokaryotic Cells, Protein Conformation, Protein Structure, Secondary, Receptors, Nicotinic, Ribosomal Proteins