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In addition to the classical voltage-dependent behavior mediated by the voltage-sensing-domains (VSD) of ion channels, a growing number of voltage-dependent gating behaviors are being described in channels that lack canonical VSDs. A common thread in their mechanism of action is the contribution of the permeating ion to this voltage sensing process. The polymodal K2P K+ channel, TREK2 responds to membrane voltage through a gating process mediated by the interaction of K+ with its selectivity filter. Recently, we found that this action can be modulated by small molecule agonists (e.g. BL1249) which appear to have an electrostatic influence on K+ binding within the inner cavity and produce an increase in the single-channel conductance of TREK-2 channels. Here, we directly probed this K+-dependent gating process by recording both macroscopic and single-channel currents of TREK-2 in the presence of high concentrations of internal K+. Surprisingly we found TREK-2 is inhibited by high internal K+ concentrations and that this is mediated by the concomitant increase in ionic-strength. However, we were still able to determine that the increase in single channel conductance in the presence of BL1249 was blunted in high ionic-strength, whilst its activatory effect (on channel open probability) persisted. These effects are consistent with an electrostatic mechanism of action of negatively charged activators such as BL1249 on permeation, but also suggest that their influence on channel gating is complex.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date